February is the month we talk about love and friendship. If there is one book that kind of “saved” my relationship with my husband before we were even married is Gary Chapman’s famous book The 5 Love Languages. We were in the early stages of dating, probably for a year, and like many couples, we had some communication issues because we were young and the relationship was new.
I don’t remember how this book got in my hands and we both read it and applied its principles to our relationship. Things got better! We got married two years later and have stayed married for 11 years…we keep learning. We are far from perfect.
There is a version of this book for kids, The 5 Love Languages of Children. As parents (or caregivers), we can learn to love our children the way they want and need to be loved.
Knowing the 5 types of love languages not only helps us communicate our love to our children better, but it helps us know how to guide them through life. It teaches us how to talk about difficult topics when the time comes. And how to discipline them while taking care of their feelings, therefore getting the message through in a more positive way.
I would highly recommend every parent read this book. We love in all of the following ways, but there is always one or two that communicates it better than others. We all love it when we receive love in either of these ways, but again, some are felt deeper than others. Another important thing to keep in mind is that this topic is deep. If you find some ideas confusing, please read the book.
1. Physical Contact
This is shown through kisses, cuddles, hand-holding, hugging, and more. My little girl is more like this. She is always on top of me and blows me kisses, and wants me to cuddle with her. So if I want to show her I love her, I correspond in the same way, even if my personal love language is different.
When disciplining her, I would be cautious with physical acts of punishment (such as spanking hands or getting them far from you on a time out chair). This sends the opposite message of love in their language. To discipline these children, the opposite is true. We have to bring them closer, be aware of their feelings, talk to them and apply logical consequences.
2. Words of Affirmation
These children feel loved the most when we motivate them with words such as, “You are amazing! I loved how you did this! Good job!” For these children, when we get angry or upset about something they did wrong and we “attack” them with our words because we couldn’t control ourselves, the opposite message is sent. For instance, if your child spills milk or got a bad grade and we say something along the lines of, “Why can’t you do things right?” or “Why aren’t you careful.” These words go deep into their hearts making them think we don’t love them anymore.
3. Quality Time
These children love one on one moments with us. Both my kids are like this, so I try to schedule special “mommy and me dates” with them once every in a while so that we can do something special together. This opens them up into talking deep thoughts with you and gives you an opportunity to teach valuable things into their hearts and minds.
4. Material Details
We must be cautious about this when thinking about material things because everyone loves receiving gifts and special details from people we love. For children who receive love in this way, it doesn’t have to be a “gift” every time. They love it when we leave love notes for them in their lunchboxes or if we go to the store and buy their favorite fruit or snack. My son loves raspberries and even though I buy them for the family, I tell him I thought about how much he would enjoy them and that I know those are his favorite and got them for him. He lights up and is over the moon because mom bought his favorite thing. Of course special gifts now and then is also ok to get but doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful and in good timing. Taking things from them as a way of disciplining sends the opposite message.
5. Acts of Service
This is a very special one too. It refers to doing things for them. Not the things they have to do for themselves such as cleaning up or their chores. It means volunteering for school activities to spend time with them, making their favorite meal for dinner, bringing them a cup of tea or soda when they are studying or working on their homework in their rooms.