Discussions around the five love languages have become a staple in the marriage and dating world. Love languages are ways of expressing and receiving love that can help couples better understand how to communicate with their partners. The idea around love languages is that it is essential to learn your partner’s love language and show them love in that way (and vice versa!). This means, if someone feels the most loved by spending quality time with their partner, their partner will make a great effort to prioritize that alone time with them.
What people may not know is that love languages can be applied to their children. Just like adults, children have their own personalities and ways in which they express and feel love. Today let’s discuss how the five love languages can be applied to parent-child relationships and how parents can match them.
The Love Languages and How to Meet Your Child’s Needs
Physical Touch – If your child loves cuddles, hugs, and holding hands, this may be their love language! Physical touch is an important way for some children to feel connected and receive attention from their parents. Physical touch can include kisses, holding hands, back rubs, special handshakes, or high fives. Some children want to feel close to their parents to feel loved.
It’s beneficial to use this or other love languages when your child is experiencing difficult emotions like sadness, anger, grief, pain, or confusion.
Words of Affirmation – Some children thrive from hearing their parents affirm and acknowledge how much they love them and are proud of their achievements. You can verbally tell your child, “Mommy loves you!” or “You did so well on your test; I’m so proud of all the work you put in to study.” Additionally, you can leave handwritten notes to your child as an extra special touch.
Gifts – Have you ever seen your child’s face light up when they receive a gift and squeal while saying, “this is just what I wanted. You love me!” Has your child ever seemingly randomly given you a special gift or drawing? Giving and receiving gifts maybe your child’s love language.
The significance of the gift is less about size or monetary value but rather about the meaningfulness of the gift and knowing their parent is thinking of them.
You may be thinking, which kid doesn’t like gifts?!
Very true! However, a child with this love language will have a much stronger reaction to receiving gifts than other children would.
Quality Time – This love language is indicative of your child wanting to spend uninterrupted time with you and bask in your attention. If you see that your child wants to be near you and seeks out more togetherness time, this may
be their love language. It is incredibly beneficial to children’s overall development to have quality time and attention with their parents.
You can spend time together watching their favorite show, playing their favorite game (even if you are clueless about what is happening) or preparing a meal together, getting outside for a walk, or spend time reading stories before bed or talking about your life stories for the too grown teenage crowd.
Acts of Service – If this is your child’s love language, they may ask for help doing things like tying their shoes, organizing their rooms, or putting together winter kits for strangers. It may seem like a simple request, but they still need your support. These selfless or engaging acts may indicate that an act of service will help them know how supportive you are.
No matter what your child’s love language is, it is crucial to take the time to learn it and express your love through their language versus your own. For example, if you thrive off physical touch but your child always pulls away, try respecting that boundary, and looking for ways to connect with them in their own love language. Of course, because they are children, there may need to be limits set on the languages. After all, you may not always be able to offer them exactly what they want at every moment. Parenting is all about balance and flexibility!
For guidance on how to nurture your family relationships or support your child’s emotional wellbeing, you can inquire about family or individual therapy here.
Written by Alyssa Heavens, MFT Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor & Mental Health Consultant