Do you feel disconnected from your child despite your best efforts? Perhaps you are constantly giving gifts to your son and he doesn’t seem to appreciate them. Maybe you tell your daughter you love her and shower her with compliments, only to find they fall on deaf ears more often than not.
You are trying to be a loving parent, yet, your love seems to be seen as an annoyance or perhaps you even get told by your child that he or she doesn’t feel loved. What are you doing wrong? Is your child incapable of understanding love?
The above scenarios happen to many parents and children, and it can cause a great disconnect when children don’t feel loved. As challenging as it can be, the remedy to the problem may very well lie in what experts call, “Love Languages.”
It was in 1995 when the concept was first introduced by author, Gary Chapman with his book titled, “The 5 Love Languages.” In the book, Chapman outlines the following as ways in which individuals both feel and show love:
1. Words of affirmation:
These are kind words that can include things like, “I love you,” or “You’re really smart!” It feels good to a child with this love language to hear good things about herself.
2. Acts of service:
This is when you help your child with his homework, make special lunch for him or teach him how to learn a new skill. Although you shouldn’t make a regular practice of it, coming home to a clean room with folded laundry may just make your child smile for days.
These don’t need to be large gifts. It’s really the thought that counts when your child has this as her love language. Bringing home a new notebook with pencils or even a pack of gum will go a long way with someone who feels loved when gifts are given.
4. Quality Time:
Giving individual attention is key for this love language. It can be as simple as reading a book with your child, or going for a walk around the block. When quality time is your child’s love language, sacrificing your time for him is just what he needs to feel loved.
5. Physical Touch:
Hugs, sitting on your lap, holding your hand, giving a high-five. A child with this as her love language literally wants to feel your love.
Now that you know about love languages, how do you learn your own child’s language?
By understanding the five love languages, parents can cater to the emotional needs of their children, avoid miscommunications, prevent many behavior issues and reconnect in a way they haven’t before. Here are ways to find your child’s love language:
1. Take a test
Many sites have free online tests to help you determine your child’s love language — there’s even one on Dr. Chapman’s site. This test is designed for children ages 9 and up so they can answer it themselves, but you can try to take it for your younger child, answering the questions the best you can.
2. Ask your child
A simple way to find out, is to ask your child. You could give him or her an open ended statement like, “I feel loved when _____.” You may get answers like, “When mom or dad gives me hugs,” or “When my parents tell me they love me.” Take those answers and fit them into one of the 5 Love Language categories, and you should have a pretty clear answer.
Watching how your child shows you and other family members affection is a great way to learn his or her love language. He or she may even show dolls affection that match his or her love language. Through observing, you child may very well reveal his or her primary love language.
Even after determining your child’s love language, it is important to be patient with yourself. Your love language (which you should also work on determining) may not match your child’s. It may be hard for you to give hugs or gifts when your language is quality time. Keep showing love the way you know how, while also making sure to speak the language that your child needs to get that positive affirmation that he or she is loved.