On Mother’s Day when my daughter was in preschool and not quite 5 years old, she gave me so, so many presents. The majority of them were handmade and included lots of bits of papers with things that she’d drawn or made for me. As she gave me these gifts, she used the words “I’m giving you all these presents because I love you so much!” My daughter’s love language is gifts. If we had people coming over, she would often make something for everyone coming, to show how much she cared.
Every child, just like every adult, is different. If you have more than one child you will know that they are different. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell in their book “The Five Love Languages of Children” talk about how we all have a favoured way to respond to and show love to others. The five main ways are:
- Physical Touch – Showing love or care with touch or a hug.
- Words of Affirmation – Speaking or writing positive words to the person.
- Quality Time – Spending time fully engaged with another.
- Gifts – Giving gifts, not necessarily big or bought, they just let the person know that you are thinking about them.
- Acts of Service – Doing something to help someone or show them that you care.
By 5 years of age, your child’s preferred love language may be obvious to you. This is the way they like to give and receive love. They may have more than one preferred love language but there is usually a predominant one.
With both of my children I had worked out their love language by age 5. When my son was in kindergarten (4 years old), we used to take a little girl with us from the school to kindy. One day, as we walked across, he commented that her hair looked pretty today. He had noticed that her hair was done in a different way and took the time to comment about how nice it looked. Yes, he is still that charming and doesn’t even really know it. My son’s love language is words of affirmation.
Whether we have determined our child’s love language or not, it is of course important to show love to our children in all different ways. Here are some ideas of how you can demonstrate different love languages to your children:
- Word of Affirmation – Use words to affirm them eg. “You look nice in that dress…” “Thank you for helping me…” “You did a good job of picking up those toys.” Put notes in their lunchbox or leave/send notes if you go away.
- Quality Time – Play with them or spend one on one time with them in some way. For example, rolling a ball back and forth with a small child is simple but effective one on one time and interaction.
- Gifts – Give something to them. It need not be expensive – you can pick up a stone or something similar when you’re out walking and give it to your child. They will like the fact that you were thinking of them.
- Acts of Service – Make them a toy or some clothing, mend a doll’s dress, fix a broken toy or paint their bedroom.
- Physical Touch – Hug and kiss your child or give just a simple touch as you walk past. As they get older it may need to be replaced with a pat on the back, a high five or a back rub after football practice.
How do you show love to your children? Do you know what your child’s primary love language might be? Do you know your own love language?
Assistant Coordinator, Stafford MOPS & MUMSnext
Jillian is married with 2 young adult children and has been blogging at www.feedmyfamilyblog.com for over 5 years. On the blog, she writes about feeding the family in body, mind, heart and soul. Jillian enjoys speaking at women’s groups and conferences about parenting and passing on faith to our children. She is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Children and Families Ministry.