How do you ‘know’ that your partner loves you? What is it he or she does which makes you know you are loved – that you really ‘feel’ it? Is it the way they look at you, or the way they touch you? Or maybe that they give you small gifts?
We’ve probably all had a partner in the past who was doing nice things for us, but we just didn’t really feel ‘loved’…. you know the one which you’d say to your friends: “He says he loves me, and he brings me flowers, but I just don’t feel it’s enough. I don’t feel like he’s the one.”
What’s possibly happened here, is that ‘he’ didn’t speak in your ‘Love Language’. This term came from a book by Gary Chapman, called The Five Love Languages. In the book he says that we ‘feel’ loved in one of five different ways ie we will have a preferred Love Language. If our partner ‘speaks’ in that Love Language, we will feel loved. If they use another Love Language, we won’t feel like we are loved.
I’ll detail the five ways shortly, but this doesn’t just relate to us as adults, it also has relevance for children……
Initially children need to receive love, in all five ways/ Languages in order to fill their emotional tanks. They need to receive love in many different ways to understand how love can be shown, and over time, they will develop their own preference of receiving love.
Does this mean you have to learn five actual Languages? …. no!
So what are the five Love Languages?
Words of Affection: When this is your preferred way, you’ll love to be told: ‘I love you’, or ‘You are wonderful’ or ‘I appreciate you’. The words might be spoken, or written or even texted. They are words of affection and encouragement, which affirm you.
Quality Time: This person will feel loved when you spend time with them, focussed on them – it could be playing together, listening to the child read, going on a walk to the child’s favourite park. If this is you, you’ll feel loved when your partner gives you their undivided attention, and you have one on one conversations.
Receiving Gifts: These children or adults feel loved when they receive special gifts – it doesn’t have to be anything large, but it’s special to them – it might be that you buy a type of fruit your child really enjoys, or a blue jumper, if blue is their current favourite colour! If it’s a gift for their birthday, they’ll especially enjoy it if it’s beautifully wrapped, with a bow! As adults it might be a gift of your favourite perfume, or a magazine you like. The message is that the person took time to select something which they knew you would love.
Acts of Service: If this is your preferred Language, you will ‘feel’ loved when someone helps by washing your car, making you a cup of tea, or collecting your dry cleaning. For children, it might be that you help them with a job they need to do, or that you help them to pack their bag when they are running late for school.
Physical Touch: This can be in the form of hugs or kisses, sitting close together, and even fun wrestling. The gentle touch conveys the message to you that you are loved.
When we are showing love to your child (or another adult) we tend to do it using our preferred Language. For example: If I am a ‘Words’ person, I will tend to use ‘Words of Affection’ a lot to those around me. That’s fine if they happen to also be a ‘Words’ person, but if they aren’t they won’t ‘feel’ the love. If they are a ‘Touch’ person, they need to have a hug or a pat to feel loved.
Practise all the Love Languages with your children, as they need them all!
Some will be easier for you to give than others. It’s easy to give our preferred one, but the others might just need a bit of practise! When children are appropriately loved and receive these messages in a variety of ways, then they grow up with a strong emotional ‘tank’ – much like filling up a car with a tank of petrol. When our emotional tanks are full, we can handle what the world dishes out much easier!
As your children grow past the age of 5 years, it will be easier to ascertain their preferred Love Language, from what they give to others, or by listening to what they say to you eg ‘Mummy can you play with me?’ (Time); ‘Dad can you help me to fix my bike?’ (Acts of Service) or ‘Can we buy some flowers for Grandma?’ (Gifts)
Happy Love Languages!