Five Love Languages Parents Should Apply to Children
While you may have heard of the love languages, you may not have applied them to the parent-child relationship. It’s telling kids “I love you” in a language they respond to. Saying the words often isn’t enough. Parents often assume their kids know they are loved, but that’s not always the case.
So, how to apply love languages to children?
1. Physical touch.
physical touch can be included in hugging, kissing, child sitting on a lap, cuddling during stories, television, or movies, tossing in the air, gentle touches on legs, arms, head, shoulders, etc., back scratches, high-fives. Even these things look really simple but can bring a big impact to the parents-children relationships.
2. Words of affirmation are ways to give praise and encouragement for what the child does. Since a child’s behavior is something he or she controls, there is a direct effect. Be genuine when giving praise. Praising too frequently may have little positive effect, as it can come across as insincere. This can set up an expectation for praise, and create anxiety when it is absent. The way you word praise and your voice tone and volume make a big difference. Make sure to say “I love you” on its own, not with qualifiers such as “but …” or “will you …” attached.
3. Quality time
Kids really seem to crave this, especially any one-on-one time. This love language is fairly self-explanatory. It can be going somewhere or just hanging out. Think of those moments when you’re sharing thoughts and feelings, having good, quality conversations. Mealtime, going for walks, storytime, or bedtime can be good opportunities.
4. Gift of giving
Of course, kids like gifts! However, it is more about the thought behind it. In a child’s mind: “You were thinking of me and got it since I’m important.” Other languages need to be combined with gift-giving. It is not a paycheck or bribe, nor should it be a substitute for time spent. As with praise, excess gifts lose their meaning. You can tell gift-giving is important if kids express excitement when receiving a gift or based on how it is presented, or display it proudly.
5. Acts of service
Acts of service refer to going above and beyond making sure kids’ needs are met. This could include offering to help with something before they ask, or at least not saying “in a minute” when they do. Encouraging a hobby, checking homework, hosting events for the kids at home, or doing things to make an illness more bearable are other examples.
Because of various situations, parents sometimes even forget to say encouraging words to children. Love should be unconditional but is often displayed conditionally (such as when kids are good). Unconditional love can prevent problems such as resentment, feelings of guilt, fear, anger, low self-esteem, and insecurity. Children need to feel loved; if they don’t, they may seek approval elsewhere.
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