Love Languages in Children

You may have heard about love languages before but if you haven't then let me explain! Love languages are ways in which people feel loved. They are also the ways people show that they love. You can have a different love language for feeling love than for giving love (for instance, I feel loved most through gifts, but show love through acts of service), and most people have more than one. It's another way of recognising that we are all made uniquely to feel and think and do things differently - and the love languages are a great way to understand how to properly love the people around us and communicate to them what we need too. 

Children have love languages. To be completely hone
st for so long I thought that all they needed were kisses and cuddles and to be told that they were loved, but after diving into Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell's book on the 5 Love Languages in Children I was amazed by how validated children feel through the seperate love languages. It's really helped me to undertsnad how to discipline better, show care better and ultimately love my children better. Below I have outlined a rough synopsis of the different languages but to dive in more I highly recommend getting the book and taking a read. You can find it here.


1. Physical Touch

Hugs, kisses, cuddles - this one speaks for itself really. Joel is all about physical touch. He loves a good cuddle, a nose rub and a wrestle with his Daddy. It's one of the easiest to do because you are naturally quite touchy-feely with kids - it's something we do without really thinking about it - but that means that we also unthinkingly forget to do it too. I don't know about you but when I'm angry the last thing I want to do is embrace somebody - physical affection is the first thing that disappears so we've had to work really hard to make sure we are remembering to embrace the kids in the midst of our disappointment, anger and frustration. Oftentimes we'll be upset about a situation that doesn't even involve the kids but we'll have found that we've pulled away from physical affection instinctively - an unwarranted punishment to our children who are now unsure why we are demonstrating that we don't love them. 

We're also finding ways to embrace physical touch without it being reduced to merely hugs and kisses - strokes on the arm, holding hands, ruffles of the hair - it's all little ways that we demonstrate to the kids how much we love them without it feeling like a huge sacrifice on our part (cause I get it, when you're busy cooking/cleaning or trying to work you don't always have the time for a 5 minute cuddle).

2. Quality Time

Boy oh boy do we struggle with this one. Finding space to have quality time with each individual child when you have a home made up of 2 adults, 3 kids, 20 quail, 13 chickens, 3 ducks, 2 kittens, 3 jobs, 2 businesses and a dog is HARD. Yet so so important.

Annie's love language is quality time. She wants to know that she has your attention and it needs to be solely on her. It's challenging and easily something that gets cast aside due to lack of time, but we are learning how to carve out moments throughout the day to focus on her. 

As with most things in life it's about consistency. There is something wonderful about whisking a child away on a weekend adventure just the two of you, but the reality is those weekends end up being few and far between and they won't sustain their need for quality time with you. Finding ways to incorporate quality time moments in your everyday is crucial to them feeling loved. 

Here are a few things that we've found work for us so far - but really the list is endless and there will be things well suited to your individual child too!
- Mummy/Daddy dates. I go for coffee dates with Annie where we colour in and Daddy takes them out for special (often naughty) adventures. Quality time in it's purest form.
- Be present. If they ask you a question then put whatever you are doing down, look them in the eye and listen. It's not always achievable, but consistency is key so making it the norm rather than the exception is what counts here.
- Incorporate them in whatever you are doing. Cooking, cleaning, folding laundry - a child who needs quality time just wants to be with you and great conversations often emerge over the dustpan and brush.
- Play. A child won't say, "I've had a really rough day and need you to show me you love me" they'll say, "play with me". Get on the floor, get out the board games and mess around with a toy - they will greatly appreciate it.

3. Words of Affirmation

"Mummy look at this!"
"Daddy watch me dance"
"Mummy look at my picture!"

We've all heard it a thousand times and joke amongst our friends about how frustrating it is to then watch them do something we've seen a thousand times before, but here is a classic example of a child seeking your words of affirmation. Give it and lavish them with it - you can't tell them how great they are enough.

Apart from it being an excellent way of growing confidence, words of affirmation can validate a child and ultimately make them feel loved and secure. What's drastically important is that they are not always tied to something a child has done. Engaging in words of affirmation when a child has done something wrong is equally as important as when they've impressed you. I mean, it's up to you, but I want to demonstrate to my child that they are loved NO MATTER WHAT, and that means telling them they are kind, and caring, and wonderful even when they've just smacked their sister in the head with the toy phone and you want to tell them what a horrid little boy they are. 

Discipline and words of affirmation can work really well hand-in-hand. When a child is acting out and doing something 'naughty', calling them back into who they are works really well. Instead of calling them names ("you are so naughty!", "why are you so horrid?", "What a silly boy!", we call them into who they are again and remind them of the great things that they can be. Phrases like, "I know you as kind, do we think what's just happened matches with that?" have worked wonders in helping my children see that their actions haven't been appropriate. Before I get all high and mighty about how wonderful I parent, I would like to remind you all that my children are W.I.L.D. They are nowhere near perfect and they muck around, mess about and generally act up all the time. Words of affirmation is not designed to be a disciplinary tool, it is designed to remind them that they are loved in all moments - even when they are being naughty.

4. Gifts.

My favourite! If you didn't already know, my love language is gifts. I LOVE a present. Not just any present though - something well thought out and with some effort thrown in. Ditto for kids. 

You often see gift giving in movies and storybooks described as a way of passing off the parental responsibility, but ultimately if you have a child who's love language is gifts it can be a powerful message to demonstrate how much they mean to you. There are two pretty important rules with this one though - don't forget a birthday, Christmas or otherwise key event and never ever, ever do something unthinking. A ill-chosen present is worse that no present at all. 

It also doesn't have to be about presents. Small, simple trinkets can mean the world to someone who's love language is gifts. A note left in a lunchbox, picked flowers whilst on a walk or even a small item from the store whilst running errands are simple ways to demonstrate love without feeling the need to go all out on expensive presents every week. Consistency people, consistency!

5. Acts of service

I always thought I had this one down pat. Everyday I wake up, feed the kids, get them dressed, take them to school, then pick them up, wash their clothes, do their homework, feed them again and then out them to bed - I'm serving all the time right? Wrong. 

Acts of service is about the stuff you do AROUND their basic needs. Helping with homework, offering to get something for them and taking them to their extra curricular activities. It's all the stuff that requires extra effort but that fills their love tank for another day knowing that you were there to serve and help. 

It's hard to list practical ways of doing this because ultimately the list here is endless. You could do any number of things to demonstrate to your child that you love them through acts of service, the principle is that you offer your help - and it doesn't matter how small you think it is, it all counts. 

Well, those are the 5 love languages on a whistle stop tour! How to work out which one your child is? Start testing it out! For most children you won't be able to truly spot a love language until they are over 3 (so continue to just cover them all!), and once you work out which one your child prefers IT DOES NOT mean that you can eradicate the others. I never said this parenting malarky was easy! 

As always, give yourself grace. Lord knows I've had to accept a heck of a lot of it as I've learnt, re-learnt and then learnt it again on this walk of motherhood, and I suspect I will be having to drape myself in it as the years go on. You are doing an excellent job, and don't you forget it. 

Until next time...


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