Tope likes eating vegetables and healthy food; Fola loves chocolates and sweet things. These are just some of the differences and your child’s love language is unique to each child. Children might have the same parents but can be very different.
When children are different, should it affect your parenting style? The answer is Yes! Knowing your child’s love language goes a long way in making parenting easier and more effective.
Because children are different we cannot afford to raise them the same way. Our parenting approach might need to adjust to fit each child. Children all come born with some natural preferences, add in the mix the way that we raise them and it all adds up to who they become. We all respond to our environment; and this is especially true for our children.
Many of us have probably at one point or the other come across or heard about the love languages by Gary Chapman. The main five love languages are Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, and Acts of Service. However, we usually refer to this when it comes to relationships or to understand our spouse better.
The 5 Love languages and your child
Our children also have love languages. Decoding and understanding this goes a long way in not just being a parent but being an effective parent.
1. Physical Touch – Your child likes hugs
If your child is a hugger or likes cuddling your child’s need for physical touch might be high. This might be your child’s way of feeling secure and loved. So rather than answer with “don’t you know you are a big boy?” give your son a quick hug and see how much it boosts his mood.
2. Words of Affirmation
Perhaps your child likes being affirmed? If your child’s primary love language is words of affirmation then you are likely to see your child blossom when they hear the right words. Phrases like “You are doing so great”, “I am proud of you for trying your best” etc are like music to their ears. For these children, you need to be extra careful about the words you use, especially when you are angry. They are likely to react more negatively to harsh words. You should never compare children but some react very badly to being compared to siblings or other children and it destroys their self-esteem.
3. Quality time
Have you heard the phrase children spell love as T.I.M.E? Most children love when you spend time with them. However, there are some children who absolutely love it when you get down on the floor with them to play a game. If quality time is your child’s primary love language they will actively want to spend time with you. The next time your child asks you to take them to the movie? don’t send them with the nanny because you are too busy. Spend quality time with your child more often and deliberately and watch them blossom.
Everyone loves gifts! if your child’s love language is receiving gifts make it special for them. It is not about how expensive but the thought that counts. If your child loves music, getting them a new album when it comes out would make them happy. Perhaps your child likes a certain type of food? you can make this a special Sunday lunch treat and make a fuss about it. You want to be careful here not to make them too materialistic! Balance is always key so do not make it a habit to buy a new toy or gadget all the time.
5. Acts of service
You will know this is your child when your child appreciates you doing things for them. So your child wants you to make her hair; don’t outsource it make them time to do this together. Your child wants you to join him in doing something that is important to him? make the time and do it wholeheartedly.
Of course, use it as a guide only as it can help you when it comes to decoding your child’s love language. Your child could be mix of more than one type of love language, a primary love language does not mean your child does not need different ways of being loved! I find it helpful when it comes to the discipline style you use for your child as well.
If you are wondering what your child’s love language is, you can have them take the Child’s Love Language Quiz here (recommended age 9 – 12). I would advise you don’t guess, I had my children take it and the results were different from what I would have expected.