Have you ever wondered if your kid knew how much you loved them? I know I have, and I think every parent does at one time or another. Sure you may be saying and doing all the same things that your mom and dad did to express their love to you. But does your little boy or girl really get it?
The answer lies in understanding how your child interprets love. It’s also imperative to understand as your child’s interpretation might be different to yours. As a result, knowing your child’s love language can also have an enormous impact on your parenting. It’s the best approach to raising emotionally healthy and confident children.
Why is it Important?
Understanding your child’s love language is crucial as feeling loved is the foundation of self-worth and self-esteem. It’s what a child’s confidence is built on, so it’s important to let them know that there’s a place for them on this planet, that they aren’t alone in this world, and that they should follow their dreams.
If a child feels unloved, it can be internalized negatively and can manifest in acting out consciously or unconsciously. These problems can also manifest into major emotional issues and lead to substance abuse and depression, relationship issues, binge eating and other mental health related issues.
It’s the premise of authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell’s best-seller, The Five Languages of Children.
Chapman believes that it’s vital to learn the love language of each kid individually as they can interpret love in different ways. So it might be different for each child when it comes to reinforcing the message in their hearts (and not just something that they’ve been told).
The best way to figure out their love language is to observe how they interact.
What Should You Observe? What Should You Look For?
It will take time, so start as soon as you can as they develop a primary language after about the age of 5. If you’re starting during the teenage years, make sure that they’re not clued into it.
Here’s what you should look for in your child’s interactions:
- Figure out what your child asks for most of the time
- Observe how they show love to others like their peers or siblings
- How they express their love for you
- Listen to what they complain about most often
You can purchase the book with the link above. There is also an online test that you can take with them to help you determine this.
Types of Love Language
According to Chapman, there are five love languages (that can be your child’s primary language of love), which are as follows:
- Acts of Service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Words of Affirmation
Let’s take a brief look into each one of them.
Acts of Service
Raising a child is an act of service from tying their shoes to providing for them and feeding them. If your child requests you to perform an act of service and you do it wholeheartedly, it has the potential to make them feel loved.
However, it’s a good idea to listen to them and figure out what will make them feel loved the most. It’s not always easy or appropriate to answer each request the way they would want you to.
Gift giving has always been an expression of love as it’s given freely and without any expectation of something in return. It won’t be the cost of the gift or even its size as the child would be thrilled and will regard it in a special manner as it was an expression of your love.
All kids need to feel some physical touch from their parents, but at the same time for some, it becomes their primary language of love. If this is the case, make sure that you demonstrate it with hugs, kisses, high fives, or even by tucking them into bed.
Being present with your child can be the best gift you could ever give them. When they get your undivided attention, they can feel important and loved.
Quality time can be throwing the ball or fishing with your child.
Words of Affirmation
Communicating your love to a child can have a very powerful effect. Words of affection, encouragement and praise can play a major role in letting your child know that they’re loved.
But you have to be careful when communication with words of affirmation as you need to mean it. If you don’t, they will know right off the bat.
Expressing love to your children in a “language” they understand is relatively easy once you determine their love language. Your relationship with them will become better by using this information.
Asma Rehman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. If you’re struggling in life, the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX; is dedicated to helping you.
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