MANY years ago I read a book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages , which was very informative, very insightful. I was able to identify my own love language, as well as apply it to my husband and children.
1. PHYSICAL TOUCH - "For children who understand this love language, physical touch will communicate love more deeply than will the words, “I love you,” or giving a present, fixing a bicycle, or spending time with them. Of course, they receive love in all the languages, but for them the one with the clearest and loudest voice is physical touch. Without hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical expressions of love, their love tanks will remain less than full."
2. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION - "In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say, “I care about you.” Such words are like a gentle, warm rain falling on the soul; they nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime."
3. QUALITY TIME - "Quality time is focused attention. It means giving a child your undivided attention. Quality time is a parent’s gift presence to a child. It conveys this message: “You are important. I like being with you.” It makes the child feel that he is the most important person in the world to the parent. He feels truly loved because he has his parent all to himself. When you spend quality time with children, you need to go to their physical/emotional level of development. The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together."
4. GIFTS - "Most children respond positively to gifts, but for some, receiving gifts is their primary love language. You might be inclined to think that this is so for all children, judging from the way they beg for things. It is true that all children—and adults—want to have more and more. But those whose language of love is receiving gifts will respond differently when they get their gift. Remember, for them this is love’s loudest voice. They see the gift as an extension of you and your love."
5. ACTS OF SERVICE - "If service is your child’s primary love language, your acts of service will communicate most deeply that you love Johnny or Julie. When that child asks you to fix a bicycle or mend a doll’s dress, he or she does not merely want to get a task done; your child is crying for emotional love. If your child’s primary love language is acts of service, this does not mean that you must jump at every request. It does mean that you should be extremely sensitive to those requests and recognize that your response will either help fill the child’s love tank or else puncture the tank. Each request calls for a thoughtful, loving response."
from The 5 Love Languages of Children
All are important, but each person's "love language" is what fills up a his bucket or "love tank".
"I know my mom loves me because she tells me (bakes me cookies, hugs me, brings me special presents, lets me play with my friends, etc.) all the time. "
"I think my dad loves me but he never says it (hugs me, plays with me, etc ) ."
How do you know which is your child's love language? Ask questions. Give choices. Observe how they act and what they respond to - see what makes the eyes light up, causes the most excitement.... do all 5;, but be sure to include the love language for the child to feel wholly loved. Even if it
isn't your comfort zone!!! We push ourselves to do things that we aren't totally comfortable with for the sake of those we love!
Here are ways to love your child so they can really FEEL it!
PHYSICAL AFFECTION / TOUCH -
ALL children need loving touch for emotional development; but some especially need touch to fill their "love tank", to feel really loved.
- back rubs, back scratch
- "plant a garden" on their back
- comb/style hair
- hold hands
- linking arms when walking; shoulder bumping
- snuggle while reading
- wrestling; thumb wrestling;
- piggy back, horsey rides, airplane on the feet
- bedtime hugs, stroking hair, kiss goodnight
- ruffle hair
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION - loving words fill the "love bucket". but words of condemnation quickly drain it. Watch your tongue!
- praise when he does something good - "that's awesome!", "good job", " you are awesome!"
- notes on the pillow, sticky note on the bathroom mirror or inside his notebook
- cheering at games; be the "loud mom"!
- spoken "I love you"; sign language "I love you"!!
QUALITY TIME ( one-on-one, or whole family) child always wants to be WITH you!
- one-on-one dates
- play board games or video games with them
- go on walks
- take child grocery shopping or out running errands, get a milkshake on way home...
- coach child's team
- cook together
- work on car together
- play hoops in the driveway
- share a hobby - hunting, running, photography, bird watching, gardening, dog training, baking, etc.
- make special traditions - stop at McD's after basketball games, lunch out after church,
- watch TV or DVDs together - special shows, movie night ( actually sit and watch it together - not just walk through the room occasionally!)
- plan special family activities that involve spending time together- camping, hiking, day at beach, picnic & frisbee at the park, wiffle ball games, go to science museum,
GIFTS - does your child collect "treasures", things that have been given to him?
- bring home donuts - each kids' special favorites
- buy something special when out shopping - a hair bow, baseball cards, pack of gum,
- hide little gifts ( a quarter, a new matchbox car, a favorite DVD, etc ) under pillow
- make favorite meal or treatmake special pillowcase to take to Grandma's house or on sleep-overs
- older girls - give special pieces of your jewelry:
- for teens/ adults - pass along heirlooms; something that belonged to a grandparent or great-grandparent
ACTS OF SERVICE - makes child feel important
- do their chores, make bed, take out trash, fold and put away their clean clothes occasionally
- clean their room while they are gone for afternoon!
- paint or redecorate their room ( Amanda painted Jason's room for his birthday one year - he wasn't allowed in to see until it was done; she painted Duke and Red Sox emblems on walls)
- make favorite meal /pack special lunch
- help with a project or homework ( Scouts, Sunday School, school )
- let them bring friend along or invite friends over to your house; be sure to have brownies, hot chocolate, chips.... be THE house where the friends want to be.
- drive them places; pick them up on time
- put gas in their car