Years ago, I read a book called the five languages of love by Dr. Gary Chapman. It describes the five ‘love languages’, in how different people express and experience love. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service. The theory is that by decoding people’s love language it will help improve relationships and connection. The same is true for our children.
I believe that when we understand our child’s love language, we can better express our love to them in the way they recognise it, helping them to feel unconditionally loved, accepted and understood.
In my family, everybody’s main love language is completely different! But from what I observed, this is how we express and experience love.
Physical Touch. This is my youngest, Ethan. He expresses and experiences love by:
- Giving and receiving kisses and hugs
- Sitting on my lap or being close to me
- Holding hands
- Playing games like “round and round the garden” or “this little piggie”
- Joining in family pile-ups!
Words of Affirmation. This is my husband, Chris. He expresses and experiences love by:
- Saying “I love you”
- Giving praise and encouragement “I love the way you...”
- Using pet names for the kids like “buddy, tiger, sweetheart”
- Affirming the children’s efforts and achievements
- Writing little notes to the kids, especial when he goes traveling for work.
Quality Time. This is my eldest son, William and my mother. They both express and experience love by:
- Playing beside each other and reading books together
- Having conversations, especially starting the day by asking what we’d like to do or reflecting at the end of the day on all the things we did
- Involving the kids in errands, even if they are seemingly mundane tasks
- Visiting and traveling to new and interesting places
- Prioritising one-on-one time with each child.
Acts of Service. This is my father. He expresses and experiences love by:
- Cooking delicious meals for the kids
- Fixing the kid’s toys or other broken items for them
- Helping the kids with getting dressed or putting on shoes to be ready quicker
- Getting the kids engaged in things like gardening
- Helping design and build things for the kids like when we redo their bedrooms.
Gifts. As a society, I think we are all very accustomed to giving and receiving gifts as an expression of love. For us, this is about what the gift symbolises and as an extension of our love for them, but definitely not the primary means of showing love. Some of the best “gifts” from my kids are those that are very small and inexpensive, for example:
- Flowers, sticks or stones collected from our walks
- A drawing or craft that the kids made at daycare or preschool
- A donation of their old toys that they no longer play with or a few gold coins to the old gentleman who represents the Salvation Army.
If we see our children as having a hypothetical “love” banks, then the little things we do on a day to day basis is making deposits to their daily happiness. Of course, I’m not perfect and there are days that I scream at my kids. On these days, I would try and make up for those withdrawals by doing something a bit more to make sure I am showing them affection in the way that best corresponds to their love language.
Thanks so much for reading! I’d love to know whether the concept of love languages resonates with you and what’s your child/children’s primary love language?