Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” has helped me understand how I want to be loved and how I can show love to my husband. In his book, he says that there are five love languages people speak, whether it be giving or receiving love. These are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Most of the time we don’t feel loved by our spouses because they don’t speak our love language. They have no idea how we want to be loved and vice versa.
My husband and I completed the tests years ago. My top love language is Gifts (receiving gifts) while the least way I feel loved is by Physical Touch. We were surprised with the results of the tests because we have the exact opposite scores. His Physical touch language is a 10 while mine is 1! Can you imagine that? But we learned to compromise and up to now we are still adjusting and learning.
In 2006 my husband received the children’s edition of the same book, The Five Love Languages of Children. I was not able to use it then because Coby was still very young and Jianne was only a few months old. But now that they are older, I thought of finding out how they want to be loved. Why do we need to know how to love our children? Allow me to quote Chapman here:
“In raising children, everything depends on the love relationship between the parent and the child. Nothing works well if a child’s love needs are not met. Only the child who feels genuinely loved an cared for can do her best. You may truly love your child, but unless she feels it–unless you speak the love language that communicates to her your love–she will not feel loved.
By speaking your child’s own love language, you can fill his ’emotional tank’ with love. When your child feels loved, he is much easier to discipline and train than when his ’emotional tank’ is running near empty.
Every child has an emotional tan, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence. Just as cars are powered by reserves in the gas tank, our children’s are fueled from their emotional tanks. We must fill our children’s emotional tanks for them to operate as they should an reach their potential.
But what do we fill these tanks? Love, of course, but love of a particular kind that will enable our children to grow and function properly.” —Gary Chapman, The Five Love Language of Children
So how do our kids want to be loved? I have a brief description of each language based on Chapman’s book. I suggest you get a copy of the book so you learn how best to love your child. You can also check out http://www.5languagesoflove.com for a quick online test.
Physical Touch: Kids whose love language is Physical touch crave hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad. Chapman says that this form of love is the easiest expression because we parents always hug and kiss our children. But there are some parents who are not demonstrative, not expressive of love. He suggests a simple pat on the back or tap on the shoulder is a good start to give the love needed by the child who wants to be physically connected to his parents.
This is Jianne’s secondary love language. She is very clingy. Likes to hug all the time. Sometimes I feel there’s a monkey hanging over my arms wherever I go. She is always in my face (literally). It’s easy for her to obey when her love tank is full. When she has received her hugs and kisses for the day.
Coby on the other hand is too sensitive to touch. He easily gets tickled and does not enjoy the hugs I give him. So I refrained from doing it. I thought maybe this is not his love language. But then a few months back, he asked me why I only hug and kiss Jianne. I was surprised at his question so I told him, “Because every time I try to hug you, you get all squirmy and push me away. So I don’t try to hug you anymore, I just kiss you on the cheek.” Then he protested, “I also want to be hugged Mama!” I apologized for holding back on the touching and thanked him for telling me what he wanted. So now, he accepts the hugs we give him. Though he tries to give embraces too but is still very stiff and log-like sometimes. But he’ll learn eventually.
Words of Affirmation: This expression of love is appreciated by children who wants to hear their parents cheering them on or applauding them for a job well done. The words that we convey to these children have a huge impact on them. When we say encouraging words to them, they feel loved. We are also filling their tanks if we continue to guide them in the right direction. When need to catch them doing good, so we can acknowledge the effort and they in turn will feel special. That’s why kids whose have this love language are hurt when we also use harsh words when we reprimand them or scold them.
This is Coby’s primary love language. I had a feeling this is how he wants to be loved but I had to confirm it with the test. He scored high in this category. Being aware of this now, makes me more conscious of how I speak to him. I have to tame my tongue some more. I need to tell more that I love him too, which I know he appreciates.
Quality Time: What is quality time? Chapman defines it as focused attention. It’s giving your child your undivided attention. We may be at home with them but our mind is somewhere else or we are too busy with other stuff around the house. Even if we are physically present with our children if we don’t sit down with them and just focus on them alone (for a period of time) they will not feel loved. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I feel guilty of this at times. I have too many things to do always and the kids try to call my attention when they are watching a funny show or they just want to show off a project or an invention. They don’t feel appreciated if I just respond with, “okay, okay, let me finish this first.”
We can show love to these kids when we go out with them on dates, individually. We can go the mall, have a snack in their favorite burger station and just spend time with them. They need to feel that they are more important than work, our chores, our friends. This is a great time to talk to them about anything under the sun. With kids, you don’t ran out of topics to discuss 🙂 Bedtime routine like storytelling, reading a book together, praying together or telling jokes creates memories that they would take with them forever.
So yesterday after school, instead of focusing my time on the computer, I suggested we watch a DVD. They were both very excited and wanted to do a movie marathon!
Gifts: Is there any kid who doesn’t want a gift? haha but kids whose love language is receiving gifts make a big deal out of everything you give them. Whether it be a simple chocolate bar or an inexpensive toy, they will surely appreciate it. They will comment on the wrapper or the ribbon. They will the keep it in a special place an every time they see that gift they will be reassured that they are loved. What is important to them is that you remembered them or thought of them. That’s what the gift means to them.
Acts of Service: These kids feel loved when you do something for them. It may be a simple act of tidying up their clothes is a big deal to them. When dads go out of their way to fix their kids’ broken toys or make them a tree house in the backyard, that is an expression of love for them.
I remember Coby saying to me before, “I feel loved when you put syrup on my pancake.” For me that was nothing, it was a normal thing that I do but I didn’t know he feels love when I make sure his food is prepared. When I make sure his needs are met, clothes are washed and cleaned. Even helping in his schoolwork conveys love to him.
Do you know your kids’ love language? How do you show love to them?