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I recently wrote a post about getting to know your child’s personality (see http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/02/get-to-know-your-childs-personality.html). In it, I listed different things I find valuable to discover about your child as early as you can. One of those things was your child’s love language.
I just finished the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I found it to be very good. While it is mostly geared toward couples, it does include a chapter on children.
On a marriage note, my husband and I have known for a long time about love languages and that ours are different. We have known what our own language and the language of the other was, also. Chapman has written things in such a way that many things just clicked in my mind while reading it. So even though we had the knowledge, I learned a lot more about myself and my husband while reading the book.
Now on to children. I am going to describe each love language and how you can fill the needs of that language. Luckily, most of these languages are naturally filled when you have younger children in the course of taking care of them in the day. It becomes harder as they get older to meet the needs of certain languages, but is well worth the effort.
- Words of Affirmation: This love language is speaking uplifting words to your child. Telling him he did a good job, that he is a good helper, that he is a good boy, etc. This is likely the hardest language to fulfill once baby leaves babyhood and enters toddlerhood. We start with our “nos” and “bads.” As a baby, we applaud every little accomplishment, but as a toddler, we need to start discipline. Without a doubt, this is my son’s primary love language. Luckily, we realized this from a very early age–mostly because it is the language of my husband also. Brayden (nearly 3 years old) only gets more pleasant and obedient as we focus on the positive and verbally recognize it than if we focus on the negative. Yes, all people are this way, but some are more so than others. If your child is this way, I have found it to be helpful to thank and thank for the good behavior. I do address bad behavior when necessary, but do it in a way that I am clear I don’t think he is a bad person or that all of his past “goodness” is now wiped out. An example in the book is about picking up toys. Say there are 12 toys on the floor and you tell your child to clean them up. You come back a few minutes later and there are now 5 toys on the floor. What is your reaction? Do you thank for the toys that have been cleaned up thus far, or do you lecture about the remaining toys? For my son, thanking him is the faster, more effective way to get the other 5 toys cleaned up. He loves his verbal praise.
- Quality Time: This love language is spending time with your child giving your undivided attention. You focus on the child, not your TV show or chores. This is my love language. It doesn’t require a lot of time. Even just 15 minutes of your undivided attention will tell your child you love him. For some people (including me) it really needs to be quality conversation, though that wouldn’t come until the child is old enough to hold one. Again, every child loves to have quality time with their parents, but for some, it is important for them to know they are loved.
- Receiving Gifts: This is perhaps the easiest love language to fill. This love language is giving gifts to your child. They don’t have to be expensive, or even cost money. It can be as simple as a dandelion you picked from the yard or a picture you drew. A good way to figure out if this is your child’s love language is to observe how the gifts he receives are treated. Does he thank and thank? Does he cherish the gift, take good care of it, etc.? Remember, it is the thought that counts.
- Acts of Service: This love language is basically doing the things you do all day for your child. Bathing, making meals, laundry, cleaning, etc. If this is your child’s primary love language, it will be filled easily for several years. You nurse of bottle feed, then spoon feed, you dress your baby, you wipe his bottom even after he learns to go potty by himself…Then as he gets older you pack his lunches and become his personal chauffeur. If your child shows uncommon gratefulness for the ordinary things you do each day (before he moves out of the house), then this is likely his love language.
- Physical Touch: This love language is hugs, kisses, pats, back rubs, etc. It is yet another language easily fulfilled while your baby is still a baby. You carry him everywhere. You kiss his little cheeks all day long. I believe this is my daughter’s love language. Kaitlyn (11 months) loves to get kisses, she loves hugs, she loves for me to play with her hair…There is little that her being held can’t solve. If this is the primary love language of your child, it is easy to fulfill as a baby, but gets harder as he gets older. Keep up with your hugs, read your stories cuddled up, give pats on the back when something was done well, etc. Physical touch doesn’t require “long” touches. Even a pat on the arm communicates love to your child.
You may or may not know what your child’s love language is. When they are babies, they likely have all of these things done for them so they don’t “crave” anything. One way to determine is to observe how they react when you do a certain thing. Another way is to observe what they seem to do to express love to you on a consistent basis. They can have a couple that are both very high for them.
Most people appreciate all of these things, but we appreciate some more than others. Certain things speak louder to us than others. By learning your child’s primary love language, you can be sure his emotional needs are met to the fullest capacity.
NOTE: LeAnna informed me of this:
“…the Chapman’s do have a book out on the 5 love languages for kids. They do suggest that for any child under the age of 6 or 8 (can’t remember exactly) you should strive to practice all 5 of the languages. But by 8 years old you should have a strong indication as to what your childs love language is.”
- TheOzz said…
Valerie, I just noticed that you had references about love languages. The GrowingKids.org leader site actually has some sample tests for adults and children.Look in the sidebar for “TouchPoints of Love” on the GrowingKids Leader Site.
The Growing Kids God’s Way (GKGW) series contains a full chapter titled TouchPoints of Love (Love Languages). My wife and I also add in a supplimental lesson to GKGW on temperments. We teach the temperments lesson live and provide the class with resources to help them determine the temperments of their children. Sherry and I have a lot of fun that night of class learning the temperments of the class members. Growing Kids God’s Way books
August 4, 2008 2:38 PM
Thanks Hank. That is good information to have. I will be sure to add that to the love languages post! [and so I have 🙂 ]August 5, 2008 10:54 PM