As we approach Valentine’s Day this year, I think it is appropriate to consider the ways that our kids need and want to be shown love. While hugs, support, discipline, kindness, and words are all a part of that expression, it is important to know that every person has a preferred love language, including your kids!
I was recently interviewed for an article on parent.co about how to express love to your kids in specific ways based on their love language. You can read the entire article here, but there are five love languages. People not only give love in their preferred language style but also receive love in that manner. Here are the five love languages and examples:
The physical touch love language is characterized by affection extended toward the loved one, such as hugs, kisses, back rubs, hair ruffling, and holding hands. If your kid has this love language, you will likely observe that she likes to snuggle, sit on your lap, or lean against you.
Acts of Service
Kids with acts of service as their love language feel the most loved when people in their lives do something for them, such as making their bed, helping them with their homework, or cooking their favorite meal. If your child prefers acts of service, you might notice that he opens the door for you, offers to help carry in groceries, or rushes to get your phone for you when someone calls.
If your child’s love language is gifts, she feels most loved when she receives gifts. This is not necessarily big or lavish presents, but small tokens of love such as a hand-written note, a book by a favorite author, or a pencil in her favorite color. If your child needs gifts to feel most loved, she will probably pick wildflowers and gift them to you at the park, bring you beads or sequins that she finds at school, or draw you pictures.
Kids with quality time as their love language crave time with their favorite people. Going on a drive to nowhere in particular, sitting on the couch watching TV together, or going for a walk in your neighborhood are extra-special to this type of child. If this is your child’s love language, you will be accustomed to the requests to play with him, wanting the entire family to go on a quick trip to the store, or the propensity to want to do joint or collaborative activities instead of solo ones.
Words of Affirmation
The words of affirmation love language in kids is characterized by needing to hear positive statements about themselves, such as that they are smart, you are proud of them, or they are capable of reaching their goals. These kids might tell you that they love you spontaneously, that you are their favorite person, or that you make the best cookies.
Regardless of what love language your child has, it is important to make sure that you are aware of the ways that your child most receives love. This is true even if your love language is something different: If you tell your child you love him (because you are words of affirmation) but he needs you to hug and kiss him (because he is physical affection), you are missing opportunities to effectively demonstrate love in the way that he will best receive it. So, incorporate both of your love languages into your expressions of love toward your child and watch your relationship develop a deeper bond as a result.