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Home > Medical Services > Employee Assistance Program (EAP) > Employee Resources & Support > EAP Educational Articles > 5 Love Languages with Children
The 5 love languages, as identified by Gary Chapman, describe how we prefer to receive and express our love. These 5 love languages-- words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch—are present in children too.
If your child thrives on praise, desires to have conversations with you, or offers you compliments, their love language may be words of affirmation. These children feel the most loved when parents demonstrate their love to them through written messages and spoken praise. Getting down on their level and telling them how much you love them means a lot to them. However, be careful not to add conditions to your statements of love. Tell them you love them without adding on any other phrases such as “I love you, when…” or “good girl/boy, I love you.” This implies to the child that you only love them in certain situations when you want to let them know that you love them unconditionally.
Children with this love language feel most cherished when parents offer thoughtful gestures and help them do things. Your child may ask you to help them tie their shoes, make their bed, or fix a toy. Although completing these acts will demonstrate your love for your child, it is okay to deny some requests. Furthermore, be careful of how much you for your child. Your child’s growing independence is important. A crucial act of service you can provide to support their independence is showing your child how to do these things for themselves step-by-step.
Although this may sound expensive and materialistic, your child feels loved when they receive thoughtful gifts. For example, offering them a pretty rock, a flower from the yard, a small toy, or a picture you drew will mean the most to them. Your gifts do not have to be expensive, but they should mean something for the child. In return, your child may express their love by offering you their own creations, such as a macaroni picture made at school. Make sure you treasure their gifts as well by displaying them in your house.
If your child often wants to show you something or asks you to play with them, they value quality time. Offering your undivided attention and spending “special time” with your child will make them feel loved. A one-on-one chat, movie night, or even reading next to your child while they play will make them feel appreciated. Something important to keep in mind is that because your child’s love language is quality time, isolating them in their room for discipline significantly hurts them.
A hug, cuddles, wrestling, high fives, back rubs, and appropriate touches symbolize your love for your child with a physical touch love language. Your child may demonstrate their need for this type of love by climbing on you, invading your space, touching you, or playing with your hair. Support your child by offering this form of physical touch. As they grow older, you can simplify your touch by establishing a good-morning and good-night hug. Something to keep in mind is because of your child’s need for physical touch, punishing touches, such as slapping and spanking, will be especially hurtful to them.
Although your child may have a primary love language, all the languages are important for your child’s development. Make sure to provide your child all five forms of love while focusing on their primary language. Additionally, your child may grow out of their original love language as they age and may crave another one more instead. Be tuned into your child’s love language by noticing their behaviors and reactions and adapting as they age and their needs change.