Love Matters: How to Express Love According to Your Child's Love Language

ByHannah MalateNovember 8, 2022
Mom and daughter laughing
“When children feel loved, not only does it bolster their self-esteem, but it also gives them a solid foundation and sense of security so they can more fully explore the world around them,” - Dr. Bethany Cook, Clinical Psychologist
What is true for romantic love is also true for the love we have for our children. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, says knowing your child’s love language can make all of the difference in your relationship. It gives them the message that they matter, that they are worthy, and that they are listened to. Chapman also explains that every child has a primary language of love, a way in which he or she understands a parent’s love best. It is therefore our task as parents to not only recognize this, but proactively make an effort to express love in ways that meet their emotional needs. It is important to take note however that even though they only have one primary love language, it is still important to allow room for flexibility and show them your love in all five ways.
Now let’s talk about the five different love languages and ways on how to incorporate these into your daily lives:
Words of Affirmation. If your child beams whenever you praise him or her and offers you lots of sweet feedback like “You’re my favorite person!”, they probably relish words of affirmation.
How to show love:
  1. Say “I love you” often— on its own, not with qualifiers such as “but...”, “only when...”.
  2. Include “thank you” cards and encouraging notes in their packed lunches.
  3. Notice their efforts and be specific and intentional with praise.
Quality Time. A child who often says, “Watch this!” or “Play with me,” is longing for more quality time. Children who speak this love language seek for undivided attention. Take note: It’s not so much of the type of activity, but the time together.
How to show love:
  1. Read aloud/ One-on-one time before bed
  2. Create family traditions that foster connection (ex. date nights with daddy, movie dates with mommy)
  3. Phone-free zone, always!
Acts of Service. Does your child feel most loved when you help him with homework or tie his shoelaces? Or maybe when you teach him how to wash dishes and peel fruits for him? Once you’ve discovered the acts of service your child appreciates most, perform them often.
How to show love:
  1. Prepare their favorite meal (you can even do this together for some added fun!)
  2. Help your child learn a new sport/hobby he’s been showing interest in.
  3. Make a list of your child’s favorite things to do and create a bucket list of things to do together.
  4. Volunteer in their school events.
Physical Touch. Though a hug might whisper “I love you” to all kids; for ones whose love language is touch, it screams “I LOVE YOU!”. If your child is constantly in your space, touching you or fiddling your hair, that’s most often than not a signal that they need to be touched more.
  1. Offer hugs, kisses, or back rubs when they are upset.
  2. Tuck them in bed.
  3. Try contact sports together!
Receiving Gifts. Children with this love language treasure gifts as a tangible token of affection. It doesn’t mean you should shower them with expensive gifts nor should you give them gifts everyday. To put it simply, it just means a child prefers to be rewarded with a pack of candies rather than a hug or kiss.
How to show love:
  1. Use colorful wrapping paper to wrap gifts to make it look more special.
  2. Take mental notes of what your child likes and surprise him on their next birthday!
  3. Give them something sentimental that will grow with them.
The purpose of learning to speak your child’s love language is for you to connect more deeply with your child and build their self-esteem as they navigate the world around them. Aside from the aforementioned actionable steps, let us not also forget that the first and most important step to developing a loving relationship with your child is by showing love to yourself first. Their little eyes are watching you all the time, so be a good role model. If you always practice self-love and love for others, your child will automatically mirror the same behaviors.
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