A few years ago I read a book that changed the way I looked at my children. In fact, it impacted me to such an extent that I started looking at EVERY child in a different way.
The book simply titled “The 5 Love Languages Of Children,” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell seemed somewhat ordinary at first glance but a close friend had recommended it, so there I was a book in hand ready to be “inspired.” Basically, it spoke of 5 ways in which not only children but all humans needed to be treated or spoken to in order to feel accepted and nurtured.
It is common knowledge that a newborn baby needs a lot of physical contact and basic needs being met in order to thrive and grow; while a toddler needs good boundaries; but what about after these formative years? What does your child need? How do you ensure that you are on the same page as them?
I have heard so many parents with multiple children complain that one discipline or communication method that worked with an older child simply does not work for a younger sibling, and it all boils down to what drives that specific child.
So here are the 5 basic love languages and how they can change the way you and your child respond to each other:
- PHYSICAL TOUCH
- WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
- QUALITY TIME
- ACTS OF SERVICE
At first glance, you may be thinking that you already know and do all of these actions with your child or children. But, each child actually thrives more by having larger doses of their individual
“Love language” sprinkled with the additional four in order to round it all out; so to speak! So how do you learn which one works best for your child? It’s really simple; you experiment and see what makes your child glow with pride!
ACTS OF SERVICE
The child whose primary love language gifts is often confused with the child whose love language is acts of service. How do you tell the difference? These children are a lot more demanding, and will, from a young age, want you to do everything for them. But as they grow they will also want to do things for you.
My son loves being able to carry the washing basket out to the washing line for me and stand and pass each item to me. This is when he also seems to like to have a deep conversation about anything that is bothering him. Similarly, he feels a sense of pride and acceptance when allowed to do the simplest of tasks.
These children often exhibit behavior that can range from complacent to energetic and animated (in today’s world these children are often called “hyper”).
Okay, so who doesn’t love a gift!! Every child loves getting a surprise toy or unexpected gift; but for the child who thrives on receiving, anything as simple as putting an unexpected “Have a gorgeous day!” smiley face sticker or “I love you!” letter in their lunch box can make a world of difference. All my children speak this language, but the child who has this as their primary love language will not only glow when receiving a gift but also when giving one! This is the child who will put an odd looking bug in a jar and present it as a prized possession, or place a flower on your pillow and expect you to keep it “alive” forever! Usually, your more complacent, eager to please children have this as their primary love language.
These children are more than often the overachiever on every level and don’t like to do anything wrong or think that you are displeased with something that they have done. (If you have one of these children, you will find yourself not understanding any other parent who is struggling to discipline their child!)
Honestly, this is the hardest language in our day and time to try and live up to!! What is quality time? Really? How do you find time to focus 100% on your child?
What I found was that all 4 of my children needed this, particularly because I am always spread so thin. So here is what I did……each child had a day of the week where they could choose what they wanted to spend an hour doing with me and me alone. The rule was that there was a budget, and siblings were NEVER allowed to interrupt another sibling’s ALONE TIME. Whether it was me sitting chatting sharing a chocolate or building a sand castle outside in the sandpit; or playing Barbies; or in my son’s case, a computer game, it was still a focussed time – no cell phone; and no one else around.
Quality Time was taken a step further in my home; with QUALITY FAMILY TIME being added daily. This was dinner time, which was always served and eaten at the dining room table and not in front of the TV. In fact, TV was only allowed on while my kids ate lunch after school for an hour and then again only after 4 pm in the afternoons. The rest of the time we had music playing which ranged from classical music to pop music.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
So here we come back to my eldest multi-talented child. She thrives and is honestly only emotionally stable if she is being told constantly how amazing she is; simply smiling at her and saying well done is NOT ENOUGH! No, she needs to have a good few minutes of verbal acknowledgment, especially when she is in between performances or jobs. If she is not on stage being applauded, then she becomes almost insecure and unable to function.
Words of affirmation are something that every child needs, however, it really needs to be overused for the child who has this as their primary love language. I found that most children who were overachievers in a specific area, yet failing miserably in other areas all seemed to have this as their primary love language!
If you find that you acknowledge your child for their achievement or brag about them to others, yet still find them saying that you don’t care about them or what they do, then this is a sure fire way of knowing that they need more words of affirmation.
My eldest daughter is extremely “arty” which comes with her being touch; sound and smell aggressive; so I discovered at a very early age that she did not like being touched unless permission was given, or she moved into my space; whereas, my second eldest would spend hours on my lap or needed to hold my hand to fall asleep. Hugging or simply touching her gently on the shoulder whenever I am in her space always results in a huge smile; a lifting of her chin; a glow in her aura and a sudden confidence to be able to do anything!
There are so many instances where I have advised a mommy with a child who had been labeled as “unruly” or “naughty” to just take their child into their arms and hold them without saying a single word! Many reported back that there was a marked difference in their child’s behavior and even had teachers and friends comment on the change in the child.
Can I just add that I don’t like ANY TYPE OF LABEL for a child – there is always a deeper root cause for the innocence of a child being disturbed or disrupted.
At the end of the day “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE” is true to a certain extent, however, the “RIGHT LOVE” language that is……is all a human being needs to thrive and grow into a successful, contributing member of society. In essence, if we as parents can get the balance right at an early age then it should bubble over into our children as young adults; in turn, they will also learn to love and respect others in the same way.