The Big Ideas!
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell teach us that “love languages” are the way that children give and receive love.
- The five love languages:
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- While children should experience each of these love languages, there is one which meets their deepest emotional needs and should be used most often with them.
- Speaking to children in their primary love language makes them feel cherished and understood, which leads to better family relationships.
By communicating with your child’s preferred love language, you can fill their “emotional tank” with love. Every child gives and receives love through one of five distinct styles of communication as seen above. As a parent, your love language may be completely different from that of your child; hence, while you are doing everything in your power to show love to your kids, they may not be receiving the same message your sending out. You essentially are on different frequencies. Authors, Chapman and Campbell propose that if you unearth your child’s primary love language you can create an unconditional loving bond by using actions and words which they “get.” The end result? Your child will want to please you with mature behavior.
Communicating via your child’s preferred love language has benefits. For example, children receiving the proper emotional support may excel academically. For pre-teens, expressions of unconditional love create a better long-term relationship with parents throughout adolescence.
Chapman and Campbell also delve into discipline as a vital part of parenting. The key is to continue expressing love while you are disciplining your child as withholding love is an ineffective punishment which can lead to resentment. The book also urges parents, when disciplining, not to employ the same love language to which their child most closely relates. Finally, during discipline it is important to distinguish their actions from their essential being as a person.
How can you figure out your child’s primary love language?
- Consider how your child usually expresses love—for example, by giving gifts, saying appreciative words, or hugging.
- Notice what your child says. Maybe your son asks for a back rub (physical touch) or wants your opinion on his new drawing (words of affirmation). Or your daughter might complain that you never take her to the park anymore (quality time).
- Try giving your child a choice between two kinds of love. Given the option, would your 13-year-old daughter prefer for you to weed the garden with her (quality time) or to do the weeding for her so that she can spend the time with friends (act of service)?
A child’s emotional tank must be filled before any effective training or discipline can take place. A child with a full love tank can respond to parental guidance without resentment.”
“Encouraging words are most effective when they are focused on a specific effort your child has made. The goal is to catch your child doing something good and then commend him for it.”
“The language of touch is not confined to hugging and kissing but includes any kind of physical contact. Even when they are busy, parents can often gently touch a child on the back, arm, or shoulder.”
IMEO (In My Eudaimonian opinion)
This is a good book, adultoids! The five love languages give parents a path to lay a long-term foundation for well-being for their children. This book is clearly written, provides many practical examples, and is helpful in the cultivation of strong relationships beyond those with your children. In fact, this a a great book on how to connect with anyone of importance in your life.
Take Action, Humanoid!
Pick one of these exercises to try for several days. Notice how your child responds to the change in your interactions. (Positive response? Awesome—keep it up! Negative or indifferent response? Try a different exercise and see if it hits closer to the mark.)
1. Physical Touch: What kinds of touch do you already use with your child? Think of three other ways to touch him or her, and begin including these in some of your interactions.
2. Words of Affirmation: If you’re not in the habit of saying “I love you,” start to say it (or write it in a note) to your child occasionally. Make an effort to praise him or her for specific positive behaviors: “Wow, nice job hanging up your towel today!”
3. Quality Time: Find one hour in your weekly schedule for special time with your son or daughter—the same time each week so that your child can look forward it.
4. Gifts: Give your child something “just because” (not related to a birthday or holiday). Keep in mind that a gift can be handmade, like cookies, or even found, like an interesting object from nature.
5. Acts of Service: Look for an opportunity to help your child, such as fixing a bicycle or assisting with homework. If he or she spontaneously asks you for help, give a positive response—either provide help immediately, or explain why you aren’t able to help right now.
The Five Love Languages of Children
Authors: Gary Chapman, PhD and Ross Campbell, MD
Publication date: 1997 (224 pages)