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The 5 Love Languages of Children

Does your child feel enough love from you? You may think, “Sure. I tell them all the time.” But before you answer, let me ask you another question. Do you know your child’s primary love language? I sure didn’t. I wasn’t even aware people receive love in unique ways. But they do. Five ways in fact and each person is wired to feel loved differently.

Before I learned about the five love languages I thought I was doing just fine. But it turns out I was missing the mark. I’m pretty sure my kids know I love them, but as I discovered there’s a big difference in knowing love and feeling love. And the more they feel love from me the stronger our relationship becomes.

5 Love Languages ChildrenBeing truly connected with our children creates a strong foundation for raising them in a changing digital world. From cyberbullying to online predators, we know too well the many challenges facing parents today. We need a firmly established bond with our kids to help guide them into becoming successful adults.

In the groundbreaking book The 5 Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell layout five key ways children experience love. The challenge for us is avoiding our tendency to express love in the way we most like to receive it. Regardless of its effectiveness.

But that would be like me giving my 9 year-old daughter a poker set for her next birthday. Even if I challenge her and her piggy bank to a friendly game of Texas Hold ’em doesn’t mean she’d have much fun. Obviously it would be much better if I got her something she would actually appreciate. Love is much the same.

“there’s a big difference in knowing love and feeling love”Brent Basham

If we want our children to feel more connected with us we must learn to speak their primary love language. This is a skill that takes practice but can be learned with a little intentional effort. And it makes all the difference in nearly every aspect of their lives.

Unconditional love is the foundation of a solid relationship. And the five love languages help us deliver love in the way our children most need it.

Language #1: Physical Touch

This can expressed with hugs like one of my daughters enjoys (the other one rations them out to me). It could also be getting your butt kicked wrestling on the floor with your all your kids at the same time (true story). Or it might even be an activity like playing basketball or some other high contact sport together.

Children with physical touch as their main love language may experience it differently as they mature. For example, my 12 year-old son who loved getting hugs when he was little, now prefers fist bumps when I drop him off at middle school. Go figure.

Language #2: Words of Affirmation

A little encouragement goes a long way. But it can’t be faked. The only way a child receives this type of love is with authentic, heartfelt praise. Children have a natural ability to detect when we aren’t being honest. So make it count.

We have to be careful here though. If we give praise too often it can minimize the positive impact on the child. And we probably need to pay more attention to the child’s behavior. The idea is to catch them doing something right and tell them we noticed and are proud of their actions. We are likely to see them continue to improve as they feel continually loved and validated.

Language #3: Quality Time

No, the time spent rushing the kids out the door in the morning or fighting with them to go to bed does not count as quality time. We are often busy when they ask us to come outside and play with them. But we need to try to say yes whenever possible. If your child frequently asks you to play or read a story it is probably because this is their primary love language.

Showing your child love in this way means not letting distractions get in the way. That means not looking at the notifications on your phone when you’re with them. The problem here is it sends a message to the child they are unimportant and has the opposite effect of what we’re looking for. And we’re always modeling behavior for them even if we aren’t aware of it.

Language #4: Gifts

I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one at first. It seemed like this would be like buying their affection. Sure, I’ve used bribes before (free cookie at the grocery store) to get them to behave periodically. But never in exchange for their love.

What the book explains is that the only way gifts will be received as love is if they feel like the parent cares. Sometimes a gift can be a symbol of love like maybe a locket for a little girl. I can still remember a chess set my grandpa gave me as a child because it was given out of love. Gifts brought back from an out of town trip can be a reminder that you were thinking of them while you’re gone. Done the right way, this can be a very powerful love language.

Language #5: Acts of Service

Breakfast in bed for you child? Maybe. It all depends on whether this is your child’s primary love language. And if they like eggs, bacon, and being lazy on a weekend morning.

This language boils down to doing things for our children. As with the others this will evolve over their formative years. And we need to be careful not to overdo it or use it to manipulate our children. This is an expression of love, doing things they may not be able to do themselves. This not only provides love in the way they best receive it, it’s also setting an example of how to help others and become less self-centered.

Discovering your Child’s Language

Now comes the hard part. I listened to this book (this is Drive Time Doctorate after all) a few weeks back and learned a lot. But life is busy. And finding out what my children’s’ primary love language requires effort. It also means I need to pay more attention than I normally do to identify how best to love them.

All children (and people for that matter) receive love in most of the 5 love languages. But they typically have one that is absolutely essential. So it’s worth making the effort to discover what that is. There are two key ways to help identify a child’s primary love language.

  1. Ask them the question, “How do you know I love you?” Their answer will often contain a clue about how they receive love. For example, if they say “Because you always wrestle with me,” then physical touch is a safe bet.
  2. Read another book. A Perfect Pet for Peyton is a short kid’s book that you can read to your child to help identify their primary love language.

Once you identify their main language, you can begin to steer the love you show them in that direction. The more love they feel the stronger the relationship will become. And I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get for these looming teenage years.

Check out our Round Table episode on The 5 Love Languages of Children

What is Drive Time Doctorate?

Is your commute time being wasted? The national average is 25 minutes spent driving to and from work each day. What if instead of listening to talk radio or pop music we use that time to learn something instead? There is a wealth of knowledge out there in audio books and podcasts on any subject you can imagine.

Just think, in just one year’s time you could listen to over 25 books without taking a single minute away from your family. Doing this will undoubtedly impact your children, spouse, and career in a big way as you use this often wasted time in a brand new way.

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