Do you know your child's love language?
Love is in the air. It is February, right!
But have you ever stopped to think about how love means many things to different people? And that many of us express love and need to feel love in different ways?
Today, the More Love Challenge launched in the MINDFLOW Membership, and we kicked-off 20-days of love with a check-in on what love feels like and how we can feel more of it.
Now this sounds like a simple question - how do you want to feel more love this month?
But this sparked up some good conversation between my two children because when they expressed how love felt to them and what they wanted more of, well it came across differently.
My son is very physical and needs physical touch and lots of family time to feel love. Whereas my daughter expressed her need to have quality time - with herself and with others.
And so this made me think of the 5 Love Languages. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages of Children says that "Much of the misbehaviour of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank’." And he goes on to state that, “in raising children, everything depends on the love relationship between the parent and child… If you want to give and receive love most effectively, you will need to learn to speak the right language.”
We know that love is a very human condition - we all want to feel love, find a love connection with others, be seen and heard with love...and when it comes to our children, they determine their love language early with their relationship to us, their parents.
So what if our children are craving their expression of love and we aren't giving love to them in the way they need to feel it?
What if we are giving our kids a hug when they are feeling low but really they need words of affirmation?
Or what if they look for meaningful connection with us during quality time but all we are offering them is gifts?
Chapman's theory is that we all express love, and experience it, in the same five ways—through physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time—but everyone has one way that matters most. And that to genuinely help our children feel love we need to communicate in the language that matters most to them.
So, how do we identify what love language is most important? Try these steps:
Think about the way your child expresses love to you. We tend to express our love in the way we want to receive it. What does your child sound like?
- Can I have a hug and cuddle? (physical touch)
- Can I have this? Presents for me? (gifts)
- Can we talk about this? Let's chat now. (words of affirmation)
- Can you get that for me? Can you do it please? (acts of service)
- Look at this! (quality time)
For example, my son is extremely loving with physical touch. He is always asking for hugs, kisses and cuddles. Even in simple moments, like when we are colouring or we can even be doing homework, he will ask for some form of touch. This is my signal that he needs more physical affection. So I will find moments in the day to be physical with him - cuddle up on the couch and read a book, hold his hand into school, give kisses before bed.
My daughter on the other hand is very interested in quality time. She is a bit of talker, too, so when we spend quality time together, doing an activity I know she enjoys or even just lying in bed at nighttime, we also find ways to add in words of affirmation or build her inner self-talk with love and confidence.
Ask them to express how love feels to them. Love may be a choice we lead with but it can also be a physical sensation inside. When we feel love it can brighten us from the inside out - and we know when that's happening. So use the body sensation as a marker for love, and ask your children when they feel the most connected to the love within them.
Again, for my son he loves being physically around people, so family time is when he feels the most love. And my daughter expresses love in a more connected way - so listening to her own music or having "special time" 1:1 time with a friend or family member.
Have them show you what love means to them. We can let them lead the way. Asking them to show love to us is a great way to really see what language speaks to them most powerfully. Give them an opportunity to show love, in whatever way feels right to them, and see what they do. Maybe they will come up with an act of kindness for a stranger, or maybe they will do something for you like make you a cup of your favourite tea.
You can use this to pinpoint the dominant way they express love, and then talk to them about how important it was for them to do what they did and why.
Homework time: choose one (or more) of the steps above to identify your child's love language and find ways to communicate with him/her in that way. See what happens and how the love within them will start to grow.