When we talk about love languages we usually talk about it in the sense of significant others. I believe this is a great way to also reflect on how you express love to your own children! What love language do you think your child appreciates the most? What love language comes easy to you as a parent and which one is a little more work? Here are the 5 love languages and ways we can apply them as parents:
Receiving Gifts: This does not have to be something store bought! It can be:
- Put a note in your child’s lunchbox for school.
- Drawing them something for their lunch box if they are unable to read yet.
- Leaving them a note/flower on their bedside for when they wake up.
- Making their sandwich in the shape of their favorite animal or thing (Shape of a car, boat, etc).
- Taking them to go get a sweet treat after school once a week or once a month.
A gift that shows you listen to your child’s interests can mean so much! The more creative the better!
Words of Affirmation: Something so simple but can be so powerful! It is so important to take the time to express words of love and care to those around us, ourselves, and especially your own children. It is something as simple as “I love you,” “I am proud of the person you are,” “you have a good heart,” etc. I think there is no greater thing than your children going out into the world with the confidence that they are loved at home. Words of affirmation are said to decrease stress and exercise your brain. While a lot of affirmations tend to start with “I”, we could change the “I” to “you” or “we.”
Acts of Service: As parents, this may come easier. I would say parents are always doing acts of service for their children when you think about it. I think the power of this love language is the separation of things we have to do as parents and intentionally doing something that you know your child would love, such as:
- Baking their favorite treat
- Making their favorite meal,
- Making breakfast more fun
- Chore help
- Giving their favorite hairstyle for them in the mornings
I think a lot of children are aware of the acts of service parents do, so I believe intentional acts of service will not go unnoticed.
Physical Touch: Hugs, high-fives, kisses, and cuddles! Physical touch can “lower heart rate and blood pressure, lessen depression and anxiety, boost your immune system, and relieve pain.” I think this is a great simple way to show your child you care about them. Such as always giving them a kiss before they go to bed, randomly giving them a hug and telling them you love them. Giving them a hug when you pick them up from school (There may come a time when they hate it, but once they reach a certain age I bet they will appreciate it again). Giving them a high five after they do something they were originally scared to do. These can make a big difference!
Quality Time: Spending quality time with your child is so important! We are huge advocates of Special Time, which you can read more about at Special Time: Beyond Just One-On-One Time. Special Time is intentional one-on-one time with your child. This can look like playing a favorite game together, planning a fun day as a surprise, reading a book with your child, or listening to your child describe their favorite movie to you. Going on a walk with just you two, taking them to the park and playing with them, going to the library together, etc. Quality time with your child can make your child feel valued and loved because you are taking time out of your busy schedule to spend time with them!
By understanding a child’s preferred love language, we can better connect and show our love for them in a way that is most meaningful to them. This understanding may look different at different stages of your child’s life. If a child prefers quality time and we show love by gift giving, we can see that may bring a feeling of disconnect there. Of course, there is nothing wrong with applying all of these love languages to the family. I think it is important to know which ones mean the most to your child. I believe making your child feel loved in the home builds a foundation for them and how they will show and receive love, now and as they grow older.