Discovering Your Child’s Love Language
Author Dr. Gary Chapman’s original book, The Five Love Languages, was hot off the press back in 1995, but the message is still as current today: in discovering your significant other’s primary communication style, you will know better how to love him or her.
Those communication styles (more commonly referred to as “love languages”) include: Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. The notion is that while it’s important to practice all five in your relationship, it’s beneficial to know which one your spouse favors so he/she has a full emotional tank.
Since my husband and I so frequently referenced the book to others in the early years of our marriage, we decided to keep an extra on our shelf to loan out. But I mistakenly ordered Chapman’s co-authored book with Dr. Ross Campbell, The Five Love Languages of Children instead.
I was about to send it back since we didn’t have any kids yet, but I figured it was worth hanging on to. Though the paperback’s acquired a little dust over several moves, I came across it recently and took it off the shelf. Here’s a little of what I found inside:
“Only the child who feels genuinely loved and cared for can do her best. You may truly love your child-but unless she feels it-unless you speak the love language that communicates to her your love, she will not feel loved.”
Chapman and Campbell claim that you must practice all love languages to keep your child’s emotional tank full. In fact, until your child is about five-years-old, it will be hard to decipher his or her primary love language. But it helps to deliberately practice all of them, knowing that in their earliest years, you are planting the seeds that will help them grow into adults who bless the world around them.
The authors define Quality Time as “a parent’s gift of presence to a child.” While it’s important for parents to set apart undivided time for their children no matter how hectic life gets, there are some children who perceive personal time together as the foremost importance.
Through their numerous interviews with children, Chapman and Campbell asked, “How do you know that your dad loves you?” When a seven-year-old boy responded with, “He does things with me. Things like shooting baskets and washing the car. And going to the barbershop together,” he indicated that Quality Time is his primary love language.
Though I know she’s a bit young to gauge, I’m starting to suspect my three-year-old daughter’s love language is Quality Time. If she wants my attention, Josie presses the top of my laptop down, asks me to sit with her to watch cartoons, and gets out of bed extra early to snuggle with me in the morning.
Chapman and Campbell encourage parents to find small ways to give their children the gift of time. From their listing, some helpful suggestions include: scheduling a specific “date time” with each of your children and setting aside a certain place in your house where you can play. A walk-in-closet can become a “castle;” a segment of a garage can become a “workshop.”
The act of giving tells some children just how much their parents care for them. The authors are quick to tell parents that the love language of Gifts is not referencing awards or allowances that are earned; those purchases belong in a separate category.” Nor is the love language of Gifts giving-in to please children whenever they desire something.
Rather, this love language “is an expression of love for the individual and is freely given by the donor…with sincere hearts for the benefit of our children.”
For example, when parents are on a business trip and remember to pick out something unique for their child-such as a seashell or a stone-it’s the memento rather than the worth of the object that truly matters.
If your child’s love language is Gifts, several suggestions for keeping their “tank” full include putting a surprise in his/her lunchbox, serving snacks on a special plate, and considering a gift that lasts such as a tree you can plant together in the back yard.
Acts of Service:
The authors tell us that “we serve our children, but as they are ready, we teach them how to serve themselves and then others.”
Though we’ll teach each of our children how to serve, the child with this love language will pay special attention to the details. He may want to watch you through each step of preparing a meal even though it’s not necessarily convenient to slow down at the time.
Yet, “if your only objective is to get the food on the table, you might as well prepare all the meals,” the writers say. “But if your objective is to love your children-looking out for their best interests-you will want to teach them how to cook. The best motivation for your children is to see your genuine acts of love for the family as you serve them over many years.”
Chapman and Campbell say that helping your child practice for a team sport, sitting down to help with homework, and setting up a service project to do together might be things your service-minded child would find especially meaningful.
Words of Affirmation:
A child will reap encouraging words for a lifetime, and all the more if that child’s primary love language is Words of Affirmation.
Since “encourage” means “to instill courage,” our words can help give children the confidence to attempt more, whether that’s learning to ride a bike, going out for a new sport, or learning how to paint.
Not surprisingly, words of condemnation will cut a child who values words pretty deeply. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I told my five-year-old son he was being a “brat,” he was quick to tell me “that’s a bad word, Mom. That’s not what I am.” Realizing just how much he thrives off affirming words, I’m watching my word choice a little more carefully now.
If you have a child with the primary love language “Words of Affirmation,” nurturing suggestions include putting post-it notes in lunchboxes with meaningful messages written on them, asking your child what he wants to do when he grows up, encouraging him on that endeavor frequently, and sharing five reasons why you are proud of your child when he is feeling down.
For some children, the kind touch of a parent or guardian shouts “I love you!” louder than the other love languages.
The authors were easily able to pinpoint the primary love language of a fifth grade girl they interviewed when she said, “I know my parents love me because they give me lots of hugs and kisses.”
Chapman and Campbell wisely speak on the changes that come with age and gender and remind parents that “physical touch” is not only lovey-dovey; it can be the wrestling, jostling, bear-hugs, and give-me-fives that many young boys crave. It can be the pat on the back after a tough day or the family holding hands together as they ask a blessing over their evening meal.
Ideas for physical touch between parents and children include: reading stories with a younger child on your lap, playing games or sports that involve contact, and purchasing a gift for your child that is touch-oriented, such as a soft pillow, blanket or sweater.
Though you may be familiar with the five love languages, I’ve found it can help to refresh them, especially as they pertain to young ones. If interested in discovering what your child’s primary love language might be, please visit: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/children/.
CWU: Wolves in Washington State exhibit. Examines wolf ecology, highlights the role these animals play in our ecosystem, includes a touchable wolf skull cast and touchable comparative species track. On view through mid April, located in Dean Hall, 1200 N. D. St., Wednesday through Friday 11am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 3 pm.
Youth Climbing Program: Kid’s Rock, held at CWU’s climbing wall on Sundays from 3-4:30 p.m., cost is $8 per week for children of Rec Members, $12 for non-members. Kids ages six through 12 are welcome to attend with a parent/guardian. Must preregister, please call 509-963-3512 for further details.
Ellensburg Christian School Auction: Saturday, February 22 in the SURC Ballroom. The event begins with the silent auction at 5 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m., and live auction at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and for sale at ECS, Fitterer’s Furniture, and Old Mill County Store.
Ellensburg High School and Central Theater Ensemble present: “Annie, Get Your Gun.” Enjoy the tale of great sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Located at McConnell Auditorium, adults $15 per ticket, children $8, student with ID $8, February 22, 27, 28, March 1 7 p.m.
Ellensburg Public Library: Come join Ms. Josephine, Children’s Librarian, for Toddler Storytime at 10:15, Preschool Storytime at 11:15 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Bookworms for 1-5 grade at 3:30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Baby Bounce at 10:15 on Fridays.
MOPS: February meeting is Friday the 21 at 9 p.m., Mercer Creek Church. New and returning mothers are invited to a morning of free childcare for their little ones (infant through kindergarten), while they gather at their table for socializing, breakfast, coffee, and a craft.
Rodeo City Gymnastics offers Toddler Time Mondays from 9:30-11a.m. The cost is $5 per child, ages six and under. 6061 Vantage Hwy. For further info. on Pre-school gymnastics and Girls and Boys Gymnastics ages five and older, please call 509-925-7380.