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What's Your Love Language?

January 31, 2017

Parent Source Feb 2017

February is the month many of us celebrate the love we have for others by giving cards, candy, and flowers. Did you know there are many different ways we can express our love and many ways others can receive our love? Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages of Children, describes five languages/ways we can connect with and show our deep love for our children.

The way each child understands a parent’s love is as unique as the child. As parents, it’s our privilege to discover how our children best receive and understand our love and it’s our joy to show them that love. Here are Chapman’s five love languages:

Words of Affirmation. Words of affection and endearment, words of encouragement and praise are like hugs for the soul. Words of gentle guidance and words of love communicate how much you truly care. Words are powerful and their meaning can last a lifetime. As parents, let’s make the lifetime of words we share with our children be ones that they can hold close in their heart and with loving memories.

Physical Touch. The language of touch is one of the easiest love languages to give unconditionally, yet it is so much more than a hug or a kiss. It can be holding your child on your lap as you read a story. It can be a pat on the back, a gentle stroke on the cheek or even a high five. For children who understand this love language, physical touch communicates love more deeply than words, presents or spending time with them.

Quality Time. This means giving your child your focused and undivided attention, which can be difficult in today’s society. So many of us are so busy looking at texts, emails, and Facebook that we don’t realize our child’s love tank is running on empty. Attention is the only thing that will fill it and a child will do just about anything to have it filled. Even negative attention is better than no attention. You can help keep the love tank filled by making positive eye contact, reading stories, playing games, talking about and sharing feelings, or simply talking with your child (not at your child). Even when we are tired, rushed or emotionally exhausted it is important to carve out special time for one-on-one interaction.

Gifts. If a child’s love language is the giving and receiving of gifts, that doesn’t mean parents need to constantly buy gifts. What it does mean is that gifts that are given become symbols of tremendous love. This symbol of love is not only meaningful at the time it is given but remains meaningful well into the future. A gift given in love is not payment for doing chores but it is an expression of love freely given by the parent. It is important to note that other love languages must be given along with a gift to keep the love tank full.

Acts of Service. Parents can show this love by helping with everyday things like packing children’s lunch, washing their laundry or doing projects together. This love language can be physically and emotionally demanding so it is important to teach children to do the things they can do on their own and help with things they can’t do yet. And, of course, it’s also important to teach children to perform acts of service for others.

To learn how your child best receives love it’s important to show your love in many different languages and to do it often. Eventually, your child will let you know what way is most meaningful. You are the most important person in your child’s life and your love—in whatever way it’s shown—is the only thing that will adequately fill their love tank!

This article was written for the February 2017 edition of Parent Source.