You may have heard about “The 5 Love Languages.” But have you heard about the KIDS version of it??
Yes, your child has their own love language!
The “5 Love Languages” concept or principle has been invaluable for Russ’ and my relationship and marriage. Just like there are different spoken languages, there are different ways in which people speak and understand love – these are their “love language”. Typically, you show and receive love in the same “language.”
They are :
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
While we all have qualities of each of the above, we all have a primary language.
My love languages are “gifts” and “acts of service.” I love to give gifts and I show my family and friends I care by cleaning or cooking for them and doing something that will help them. Alternately, I feel so special when someone gives me a token of love or appreciation or does something thoughtful for me, regardless of how big or small.
On the other hand, Russ’ love languages are “quality time” and “physical touch” – very different from mine. This means we have to be acutely aware to speak in other person’s love language – not just our own. I could cook and clean all day long for Russ (“acts of service”) but he won’t feel as loved as when I give him a hug when he gets home (“physical touch”) Russ loves to plan outings and trips (“quality time,”) but I feel especially loved when I come home to a picked-up house and my favorite flowers, or he remembers to put a straw in my Starbucks coffee (“acts of service” and “gifts.”) See what I mean? You actually have to go outside your comfort zone and speak someone’s language if you want them to really understand and feel your love for them.
You might say “well ALL of the love languages sound like something I’d like and how I show people I love them.” And that’s true – we all partake in all of the languages at one time or another and need it all in our lives. But if you pay attention you will see that there is pattern in which you feel most loved and how you keep showing love to others. You may also think “man I must be super vain if ‘words of affirmation’ is my love language” or that you might be the most shallow person on earth if “gifts” is your main language (I thought that one for sure.) But it’s nothing to be ashamed or perplexed about. These are completely true and authentic ways in which our personalities and internal selves were made to speak in love and affection.
So here we were just rocking loving each other in our love languages and then BOOM: I discovered that your KIDS speak a love language, too. And they start speaking it pretty early.
You guys, Knowing this has been PIVOTAL in my parenting experience.
It took a while and some careful observation but my initial hunches proved to be correct with my kids’ love languages.
Maddix’s (12yrs) primary love language is quality time. Since mine is acts of service and gifts, I tend to give her gifts or do things for her. But that is not her language. I realized she doesn’t feel the love when speak in my language AS MUCH as if I were to spend time with her, just sitting on the couch talking or doing something with her. Making her favorite food does not fill her tank; sitting with her talking while eating it DOES. Giving her something new doesn’t get her that excited; she doesn’t put much attention into “things.” So to speak her love language, I try to carve out moments in our day to connect and give her time. Her secondary love language is “physical touch” – she likes to stand by and sit close to us. I used to think this was a problem with her ability to understand people having a “physical bubble” of space, but it’s sincerely just that she likes to feel physically close to people. Because these are also Russ’ love languages, I think that is why the two of them connect so well.
Reese’s (5yrs) primary love language on the other hand is gifts. Because it’s the same love language as me, I find it easy to “speak” to her and show my love to her. Of course all kids love gifts and toys and getting “something special” but Reese is the most animated and vocal about it out out of our three kids. When Reese puts on a dress or is playing with something in the playroom, she will sometimes randomly say “Mom, thank you for getting this for me. I know this is special.” As much as we don’t want to cultivate materialism, tangible items show Reese someone cares about her. This was evident at Valentines Day when I made a special valentines day breakfast with gifts on a decorated table. Reese was LOVING the gifts, oooohing and ahhing and handling each one with care and thanking us and saying this was the best valentines everrrrr – while Maddix was looking around observing everyone and taking everything in and happily talking to each of us, paying more attention to the people around her than the things.
Paige’s (2yrs) primary love language is “physical touch” because she is the most cuddly of the three. I also think acts of service might be one of her love languages, because she loves playing with baby dolls or the play kitchen and going around the house with the broom and mop, doing “service” tasks. I observe her often playing with dolls and “taking care of them,” and the other day she dropped a My Little Pony in the Target parking lot and she picked it up and patted it and “shhhhh”‘d it lovingly. Neither Reese nor Maddix did this as much as Paige when they were little, and that gives me a clue. We’ll see as she gets a little older.
Notice that words of affirmation is not at the top for any of my kids. So, while of course we ensure to point out when they do something great and of course affirm them all the time (“I love you. You are loved. You are amazing. You are smart and funny and kind”) these alone will not make them feel the most loved and cherished. Russ still leaves post-it notes every morning for the girls with words of affirmation. Because there is no such thing as giving too much love to children.
Knowing my kids’ love languages has allowed me to become aware of what I need to do so that they feel loved. Doing things that make me feel loved (speaking in my love language) is not as effective as if I were to do things that make them feel most loved (speaking in their love language.) This comes especially in handy when planning trips and events, after school activities and holidays, gifts and celebrations. I keep in mind that Reese likes gifts, Maddix likes quality time, and Paige might just need a good ‘ol hug.
In short, this is a way to become more effective and efficient in loving your kids. Parenting hack!
I also know that these love languages start early as a kid because my memories of feeling most loved are when my grandparents got me a special gift or my mom cooked for me. I’m sure I heard “words of affirmations” constantly and spent lots of “quality time” with my family and of course hugs all around, but these are what I remember most when reflecting back, because it spoke in my language. I bet my mom’s love language is “acts of service,” too. Whenever she comes over she is a ball of energy cleaning and cooking for all of us all day long. That’s how she says, “I love you.”
You can find out your love language AND your kids’ love language by taking the tests here. If you haven’t read “The 5 Love Languages,” or “The 5 Love Languages of Children” I highly, highly recommend it.
Alright, let’s go spread the love!