You know you love your child and your child knows that you love them.
So why worry about their love language?
Knowing what your child’s love language is can help you better understand their emotional needs as well as build a deeper and stronger bond that will last a lifetime.
Want to learn more? Find out what the five love languages are and how you can nurture them with your child:
What are the Five Love Languages?
In his book published in 1992, American author Gary Chapman outlines five ways in which romantic partners can express and experience love.
Over the years, this idea has been adapted to include not only romantic partners but children as well.
Chapman theorizes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they want to receive love but that better relationships between people can be developed through caring to the other person in a way (or “love language”) that they understand.
The five love languages include:
Quality Time: This language involves providing focused and undivided attention as well as spending time together.
Physical Touch: This can include hugs, cuddles, kisses, etc.
Affirming Words: This language uses praise, encouragement, endearment and words of affection to show love.
Acts of Service: This doesn’t simply mean taking care of someone but providing services that are seen as valuable.
Gifts: Showing your love through gifts doesn’t have to be grandiose or expensive. This simply means giving and receiving undeserved gifts no matter how small.
These love languages probably seem familiar, as they are ways in which we show our children love every day.
However, understand the language your child requires in order to feel loved will help you build a stronger bond and better connection with them.
How to Figure Out Your Child’s Love Language
As children grow and develop, their needs change drastically as well. Their love language is likely to evolve as they grow up, so knowing what their love language is can depend a lot on their age.
Babies, toddlers and preschoolers don’t typically have a primary love language and need to be shown love in many different ways. As they mature and develop, however, their needs will become more clear.
However, even between the ages of five to eight, it may take some work to figure out what their love language is – since they will not be able to directly communicate their needs.
At this point, you can try to incorporate all of the love languages and see which one gets a stronger reaction.
You can also ask them how they know you love them. For instance, when I ask my daughter this question, she responds: “Because you tell me all the time!”
For her, it could be that words of affirmation is her love language.
When your child reaches the ages of nine to twelve, their development may cause a shift in their love language. Again, test out different languages and see which one works best for them.
As teenagers, you can have a more open conversation about what their love language is and how knowing this can help you both better connect. Also, think about how your teenager shows you that they love you – remember, we often love others the way we want to be loved.
You can always get them to take a Love Language Quiz and see what the results are!
How to Nurture Your Child’s Love Language
Once you figure out what your child’s love language is, or think you have it figured out, here are some ideas you can use to show your love for them:
Quality time is all about giving your child your undivided attention. With more than one child, this can be hard – so if you have to “schedule” time together, that is perfectly okay!
Set up some alone time and have a conversation one-on-one.
Ask them questions to encourage them to open up.
Read stories together at night.
Go on a “date” – take a walk, see a movie or go out for a meal.
Do chores together.
Start a hobby together.
Actively listen to their stories.
Bring them with you when you run errands.
Stop what you’re doing when they want to talk to you.
I know that not everyone likes to be touched, even parents, but if your child’s love language is physical touch, you can still find ways to connect with them physically without having them crawl all over you.
Always hug them goodbye when they go to school and when they come home.
Bedtime snuggles and kisses.
Hold their hand while watching a movie together.
Brush their hair.
Pat their back or give them high-fives.
Sit near them whenever you can.
Play games like Twister or thumb wars.
Make up a special handshake.
We all want our children to know they are doing a good job but sometimes we get so focused on discussing their mistakes and guiding them through their errors that we forget to say things that are positive and encouraging.
Praise them for specific things, like making their bed or the outfit they chose for the day.
Write them encouraging notes and leave them around the house or put them in their lunchbox.
Say positive things about them to other people when they can overhear you.
Email or text them throughout the day.
Tell them that you love to watch them play a game/draw a picture/practice a skill, etc.
Acknowledge their good intentions when they make a mistake.
Give them an affectionate nickname.
Acts of Service
While we want to foster independence in our children by not serving them hand and foot, there are ways you can do nice things for them to make them feel loved!
Fix a broken toy or torn piece of clothing.
Offer to do a chore of theirs every now and then. (When they ask why you are doing this, simply tell them it’s because you love them.)
Support their hobby or skill.
Make them their favorite meal as a surprise.
Help your child finish a task if they are struggling.
Clean out their closet.
Help them with their homework.
Most parents want to shower their children with gifts but hesitate to do so at the risk of spoiling them. You can nurture your child’s love language through gifts without going overboard.
Leave a little treat in their lunchbox or on their pillow.
Give them a little gift after they’ve faced a challenging time (like after a breakup or exam).
Make them a personalized gift.
Leave little notes with the gifts telling them you love them.
Use a sticker chart to record their achievements.
Make them a personal photo album.
Handpick flowers for them.
Now that you have some ideas for nurturing your child’s love language, you can see how many of these examples can easily overlap.
For example, as you’re helping your child with their home (acts of service), you can sit closely with them at the table (physical touch).
It’s important to remember that your child will likely not subscribe to one particular love language – we all need love in different ways!
However, knowing which one resonates the strongest with your child is the first step in developing a healthier bond and relationship.
Do you know your child’s love language? Share it in the comments!