We all want our children to feel loved. Sometimes, life with small children is so chaotic and parents are spread so thin. When you’re in this season, it is hard to show your children love. When we think of meaningful ways of showing love to our children, the first things that come to mind are extravagant things; trips to Disney, mommy and me dates, gifts, game nights, Pinterest worthy parties. I struggle with that myself. But friends, let me tell you, our children don’t need a Disney trip or an entire day alone with parents to feel loved. That stuff is nice, but there are seasons of life when money is tight and seasons where time is tight and that stuff isn’t possible. Here are some real, practical ways that you can express love to your children using the five love languages.
*Links to Amazon are affiliate links
I believe that children have different love languages. I also believe that their love languages are developing and changing as we parent them, so it’s important to touch on each language with your children. You want your child to feel true, unconditional love. This can be hard with areas that don’t matter to us. I am not a words of affirmation person, so I have to make a significant effort to praise my children. I may think that I’m showing them love by smothering them in hugs and kisses and spending lots of time with them, BUT if their primary love language is words of affirmation, then they won’t feel as loved by the things I am doing.
What Are the Five Love Languages?
The Five Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.. There is a version for adults, children, and actually pretty much any group of people you can think of. The main concept of the book is that we all feel love differently. Typically, we each have a primary love language and one or two secondary love languages.
It makes sense to consider someone’s love language in a romantic relationship, but what about a parent/child relationship? YES. Absolutely! It is essential to our children’s emotional health that they feel safe and loved by their parents.
How Do I Know My Child’s Love Language?
Well, first off, think about what makes your child happy. What makes them really excited? Then– what makes them upset. It usually goes both ways. For example, if your child loves to cuddle, and also becomes overly upset when she is hurt physically by another child, her love language is probably physical touch. It works with adults as well, don’t worry! My husband’s primary love language is words of affirmation. Not only does he light up when I compliment him, but if we argue and I say unkind things, they hurt him to the core.
Second off, there is a free quiz! Have your child take the love language quiz here! It’s a great activity the whole family can do together.
1. How to Show Your Child Love Using Physical Touch
- Secret Handshakes. I squeeze Theo’s hand 3 times and let him know that means “I love you.”
- Hold their hand while on walks.
- Stop to give them a quick kiss or hug as you’re walking by them.
- Roughhouse and tickle.
Physical touch is so important and reassuring to children. I had someone tell me once that if I hug my kids more than I yell at them, then they will know I love them. Meaning, no parent is perfect, and we will run out of patience… but as long as the hugging outweighs the yelling, our kids will feel loved.
2. How to Show Your Child Love Using Quality Time
- Include them in the things you do. Theo will ‘do work’ in the mornings with me on his LeapFrog.
- Let them help you with chores. My kids LOVE to take the wet laundry and put it in the dryer. They also like to help prepare food, and ‘clean’ the floors/windows/walls.
- Time-in instead of timeout: a child who’s love language is quality time will be really upset by being sent away from you. Consider doing a time-in, where you hold your child to help them calm down, but give them no other attention.
Quality time doesn’t have to be an entire day. It can be ten minutes of one on one time doing an activity or just talking with your child.
3. How to Show Your Child Love Using Acts of Service
- Bake them their favorite treat, just because.
- Help them build legos or do a puzzle that is a bit too hard for them.
- Fix a toy that is broken.
If you have a child who is constantly whining and asking you to do things for them, it’s possible their love language is acts of service. Pay attention to how they respond when you complete these requests for them. They could be asking for you to show them love by doing things for them. This obviously doesn’t mean that you have to do everything they ask of you or they don’t feel loved… just be mindful of it.
4. How to Show Your Child Love Using Words of Affirmation
- Praise your child with specific examples of their personalities or things they have done.
- Insert their names into stories and songs.
A child who’s love language is words of affirmation will become really upset by negative language. Be careful how you reprimand them when they have done something wrong. Try to use statements that focus on their action rather than their personality. “I’m disappointed in the choice you made, but I know you’re a good boy and will make a better choice next time.”
5. How to Show Your Children Love Using Gifts
- Surprise them with a special snack or treat from the grocery store.
- Packs of stickers or coloring books.
- Play-dough and other arts and crafts.
Giving gifts to your child is a great way to show them love when you have a new baby at home and less time than usual. They don’t have to be big, extravagant gifts. They can even be homemade or toys that have been put away for awhile! It’s also hard to tell with young children if gifts are truly their love language, or if they’re just excited to open a present because they’re a child!
For more information, you can read the book The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively
Today, all of the Babywise Friendly Blogging Network mamas are blogging on the topic of love. Click on the links below to read their posts!!