You might have heard of the book written by Gary Chapman “The Five Love Languages” – or one of several spin-offs like “Love Language For Kids.” The idea is that we each express love and want it in different ways, and to be better partners or parents we should try to learn how the other person prefers to receive love.
A good example is a husband who buys his wife the occasional, expensive gift, but all she really wants is for him to do the dishes without being asked, complaining, or expecting a gold star after.
And, although the book had got some criticism about boiling down needs in a relationship to something to trivial as “wanting more presents”, there is plenty of wisdom that parents and teachers can take from this general idea of this book. Let’s take a closer look.
Love Language #1 “Words of Affirmation”
This can include things like saying “I Love You” more or communicating appreciation for specific things. And if we think of how this affects a child’s development, the benefits are widespread. And it sure doesn’t take citing any studies to know that it will be nothing but excellent for kids to get compliments and encouragement.
The downside? As adults, we don’t run the risk as much of becoming arrogant, but the kiddo’s heads might get a bit on the big side if they exist in nothing but a compliment ocean.
Love Language #2 “Acts Of Service”
This one might be less for kids and more for adults. And it’s pretty safe to assume that there are many partners in relationships who would immediately put themselves on the receiving end of this love language. It really just boils down to doing things that are nice or taking the burden off the other person (without being told to do so).
- Doing errands or filling up the car
- Washing the dishes
- Making a cup of tea and giving a foot rub after a long day
- Fixing something around the house
Doing this also frees up time to act on other love languages. This can include spending more time with the kids and nurturing their own ways of expressing and giving love.
Love Language #3 “Receiving Gifts”
Yes, yes. We all love Christmas and birthdays. Pulling back that paper to see (and let’s be honest) how much thought the other person has put into us (notice the use of “thought” and not “money”).
You don’t have to break the bank to tell someone you love them. It can be something as simple as picking a flower off the side of the road and tucking it behind their ear. Or, making something with your own hands that you know they’ll love. And yes, expensive gifts count in this category too.
However, with kids, this is another one to be careful with. Don’t over-shower them with material items and make sure to set boundaries with extended families regarding how many gifts are given to your children. Teaching to be generous by giving donations to others (thus teaching them the value of Love Language #3 towards someone else) can be powerful.
Love Language #4 “Quality Time”
This one is expressed through undivided attention. And no, you can’t do this by half looking at your phone and half talking to your partner. It means ditching all technology and having meaningful conversations. It means reconnecting again, even if it’s just in small ways.
Setting aside a block of time is the first thing to do (however, if you’re busy, the initial focus is quality over quality). Eye contact is also extra important but can be uncomfortable for some people. If it is, just let your partner know and take your time. You also actively listen!
And guess what? Kids NEED this!!!
Love Language #5 “Physical Touch”
Did you know that some people don’t like to be touched? I might sound weird because we are social creatures that usually like contact in some way. But there are those who don’t really need hugs or cuddles to know they are loved – and that’s okay!
The only problem comes when they are couples with someone whose love language is a deep need for a physical connection. Then, it comes down to communication.
Also, kids might not always want to be cuddled. And that’s okay too. They might be flying a dragon in their own little world but having you sitting beside them is all the physical closeness they need.
Five Love Languages – Conclusion
Obviously, most people won’t just be ONE category. They’ll be a combination. And certain life stages or events might change their love layout. That’s why communication with family members (young and old) is vital. So, what’s your love language?