Speak Your Children's Love Languages
- Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell's new book, The 5 Love Languages of Children (Moody Publishers, 2012).
Everything you’re trying to accomplish as a parent depends on whether or not you and your children enjoy loving relationships with each other. If your children don’t feel loved by you, they won’t accept your parental guidance. But if they do feel your love for them, they will want to learn from you.
You may think your kids should just know that you love them. After all, you’re their parent! But kids need to emotionally feel your love for them to really know that you love them. The way to help them feel your love is to communicate it in the way God has wired your children to best understand it – through each child’s distinctive love language.
Here’s how you can speak your children’s love languages:
Start by asking God to love your children unconditionally. The love you express to your children through any of the love languages must be unconditional in order to be most effective in their lives. Pray for the help you need to love your kids as God loves them. Choose to communicate love to them based on who they are, rather than on what they do. Do your best to let your children know that you love them no matter what.
Become fluent in all love languages. No matter what love languages are your children’s primary ones, it’s important for you to be able to communicate with them in all five languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service) because they need some of each one to be emotionally healthy.
Discover each of your children’s primary love language. You can figure out which of the different love languages is the main one for each of your kids by: observing how they choose to express love to you, observing how they express love to other people, listening to what they ask you for most often, noticing what they most often complain about not receiving from you, and giving them a choice between two options of something good (that each reflects a different love language) and noticing which option they choose.
Communicate love through physical touch. Children whose main love language is physical touch need appropriate, affectionate touch from you to feel loved. Give them plenty of hugs, kisses, encouraging pats on the shoulders or arms, high-fives, snuggles on the sofa, time on your lap (for younger kids), back or hair rubs, playful wrestling, and holding hands during family prayer time. But never force touch on them if they’re teenagers; keep in mind that teens may be embarrassed by having their parents touch them in front of their peers, and sometimes they may just not be in the right mood to be touched. Remember, too, that your kids will never outgrow their need for healthy physical touch (and particularly for girls, it’s important for them to develop strong self-esteem and a healthy sexual identity).
Communicate love through words of affirmation. Children whose main love language is words of affirmation need positive words from you to feel loved. Give them kindness, sincere praise (for specific efforts they’ve made), and encouraging guidance regularly through the words you speak and write to them each day. Actually say the words “I love you” to your kids often. Be careful to use a gentle and caring tone of voice as much as possible when talking with your children. Avoid negative communication like harsh words and yelling and screaming, which can devastate kids whose primary love language is words of affirmation. Whenever you slip up and speak too harshly to your children, apologize to them. Be creative about incorporating as many positive words as possible into each day with your kids, from texting them with loving messages to talking with them about their dreams for the future and encouraging them to pursue those dreams.
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