I’ve always been a big fan of online quizzes. While my professional path as a psychologist dissuades me from engaging in non-scientific inventories, my personal playfulness can’t help but find them entertaining. This is why when I came across the theory of the “5 Languages of Love,” I was instantly hooked. And once I found there was an accompanying quiz, I was sold.
Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor and author of The 5 Love Languages, found through his experience that everyone speaks a different love language. He divides them into five: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch. According to Chapman, we are all “speaking” each of these love languages, but we tend to give one (or two) more importance than the others.
But Chapman didn’t end his work there. He has extended his idea to — what I consider brilliant and necessary — the parent-child relationship. In his theory, children as early as five-years-old start to prioritize a love language. Following this premise, it’s important for parents to learn how to speak their child’s language fluently. Not only does this strengthen their bond, but it also makes a strong foundation for a growing and blossoming relationship, which sets the pace for your child’s future relationships.
But how can we speak each language fluently?
1. Words Of Affirmation.
As the name suggests, people who favor this language need to receive words that affirm their love. We lexicon lovers and word worshipers value hearing and reading about our partner's or parents' love for us. The children who have this love language value letters, post-its, notes, or simply hearing their parents say why they feel proud or love the most about them.
If this is your child’s love language, your child might value finding a small note from you in their lunchbox telling them to have a great day, a brief card on an important day for them (double points if you actually mail it to them), or verbally telling them how proud you are. Pure praise can go a long way with children who speak this love language.
2. Acts Of Service.
For people who speak this language, actions speak much louder than words. Rather than doing things for your child, think about what activities require some assistance — preferably from you. These are the type of children who like it when you take them to their art class (as opposed to carpooling) or after-school activity. These children need their parents to show them that they care, rather than just telling them.
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If you think this sounds like your child, some tips to show them you care can be cooking them a special meal that features their favorite food, making a special craft with them which can double as a keepsake, or offering to help them study for an exam. It’s all about actions with this love language and making sure they resonate with your child.
3. Quality Time.
These are the types of people who need your undivided attention. Sometimes, it might not even be your attention they’re after, but just knowing you’re around. Children who speak this love language value time spent with them — some the quantity and others the quality. One-on-one dates between child and parent become more important, especially if your child has siblings.
Your child might need you to plan an afternoon of watching movies and eating popcorn together, play games with them (free play or board games depending on your child’s age), or set up a picnic for just the two of you. It’s all about making those special moments count.
4. Receiving Gifts.
People who speak this love language value receiving gifts. But don’t be fooled — it’s not just physical gifts they want. It’s tokens of appreciation or meaningful gifts they value most. These are the type of people who don’t want a gift certificate or money for their birthday but rather something unique that reminded you of them.
If this description resonates with your child, some ideas to show them you care can be leaving them a fun surprise (candy bar or something they collect) in their room for them to find when they get home from school. Other ideas: giving them a scrapbook of the highlights of their year or restoring a favorite toy from when they were younger. For these children, it’s the thought that counts over anything else.
5. Physical Touch.
These type of people are highly kinesthetic. They value receiving sporadic signs of affection through physical touch. Children who appreciate this love language are the ones who seek hugs and cuddles more often than not. They are the type who'll grab your hand or put their head on your shoulder at random times. For them, your physical touch is a constant reminder that they are loved.
While hugging and kissing are the most obvious ideas that come to mind, some other tips may include cuddling while watching a movie together, giving a special type of kiss (like “butterfly kisses”) or even a brief hug while they’re doing their homework or playing a video game. Sporadic signs of physical affection are what these type of children value the most.
Speaking your child’s love language might be initially difficult for you (especially if it’s a love language different to yours), but the more you “speak it," the more natural it becomes. Making your child feel loved has immeasurable effects on your child’s self-esteem and general wellbeing. Making them feel particularly loved by you is the greatest gift you can give.