Children are unique and special little individuals. They are not replicas of their parents which can make it difficult sometimes for you to understand your child. Love is an abstract concept which makes it difficult for children to understand. They will express their love to you in their own way and also need love spoken to them in that way. The love of a child is pure and unconditional – like all forms of love should be. I ask most children that come to visit me: How do you know mommy and daddy loves you? Their answers will differ: Some say “my mommy plays with me” “my daddy helps me with school” “they say that they love me” “they buy me nice toys” “my mommy gives me lots of hugs and kisses”. Because children want love in different ways it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what fills up their “love cups”. With this discussion I would like to share with you the five love languages of children to help you as parents fill up that love cup and to ensure that you child feel loved. The information given was found in Gary Chapman’s book: “The five love languages of children”.

1) Words of affirmation

When I was a little girl, I use to run to my mother and hug and kiss her saying “mommy I love you very much and you are the best mommy in the world”. She use to look at me and say “don’t tell me how much you love me, show me… Go clean your room or help me with the cooking”. It was clear that my love language is words of affirmation. Children, whose love language is words needs to hear daily that they are loved, accepted and appreciated. Uplifting and positive words fill up their love cups. For these children harsh and critical words are very hurtful and they don’t react well to screaming. These children are sensitive towards what people tell them and need constant verbal affirmation that they are loved and special. Here are some examples:

  • Use uplifting words before your child starts their day
  • Tell your child that you love him/her and that they are special every day
  • Leave uplifting messages in your child’s lunch box and around the house
  • When your child makes/does something well, praise them for it – make a big deal of it.
  • Use encouraging words instead of critical words
  • Don't yell at your child 

2) Quality time

When my partner was a young boy, he would go up to he’s parents and say “Please come see what I did” “Please come play with me”. From this it’s clear that he’s love language is quality time. For children who depend on quality time, time spent with them is very important. They want your undivided attention and might act negatively when they don’t get it. Spending time with your children is very important. It they don’t get enough of your attention they will start to act out and ask for it in a negative way. But for children whose love language is time, time spent is even more important. I always say give your child the time they need before they start to ask for it. Spending at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with your child can make the difference between feeling loved or rejected. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Spend time playing with your child – make time for quality conversations and play
  • Play games that they want to play
  • Give them your undivided attention – no cell phones
  • Spend time putting them do bed
  • Sit with them while they are taking a bath 

3) Physical touch

I remember that as children my sister was very affectionate. She wanted to sit close to you in the car and enjoyed sleeping with me in my bed. Thinking about it now it is clear that her love language is physical touch. Children who depend on physical touch as love language is very affectionate. They need constant touching, hugging, kissing and cuddling. Touch is a very important form of love as it provides nurturing and reassurance. When you touch your child they feel cared for and safe. It makes me sad that touch is seen as uncomfortable with your child of the opposite sex. Boys and girls need touch and don’t be scared to give it. Spoil your child with touch and they will feel loved and safe. Remember that a child who depends on touch to feel loved will react very negatively toward bad/aggressive touch such as pushing, pulling or spanking. Try to use a different form of discipline in this regard. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hugs, kisses and cuddles
  • When your child is stressed, touch their arm or back for encouragement
  • Touch your child when they are talking to you
  • Let your child sit on your lap
  • Play games where physical touch is a part of the game

4) Acts of service

Thinking back on my childhood I remember that my mom always use to say “If you love me you will clean your room” or “Show me how much you love me by helping me with the dishes”. It is clear that her love language is acts of service. Children who depend on acts of service as a love language enjoy it when you do things for them – little acts of love. They will say “my mommy loves me because she makes up food and bakes cupcakes” “Daddy loves me because he helps me with my homework”. This love language does not mean that you need to do everything for you child, they need responsibilities and chores. But this means that your child will appreciate your help, especially when they feel stressed and overwhelmed. These children might also enjoy helping you with tasks in and around the house – make them part of it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Help your child with tasks and homework – especially if they seem overwhelmed
  • Help your child with activities such as sport
  • Make your child’s favourite foods and desserts
  • Let your child help you with tasks

5) Gifts

Upon answering the question “How do mommy and daddy show you that they love you”’ most children say “I am so happy, they got me a present” “mommy and daddy buy me presents on my birthday”. Gifts are the fifth love language and the most concrete of all the types. Children up to the age of 12 years old are still very concrete in their thinking. This is why gifts can be a valuable expression of love for children. Children enjoy having a concrete object like a toy to remind them of their parents love. Never spoil your children with gifts, but a surprise gift here and now, will make them feel loved and special. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep little gifts in the house and surprise your child with them
  • Let your child make a list of gifts that they would like and choose gifts on the list
  • Put a little surprize in your child’s lunch box
  • Try to find gifts that has your child’s name on it

In conclusion – although your child will have their own unique love language they need a little bit of all the five languages. Hold and kiss your child, tell them that you love them and that you are proud of them, spend time playing and being with them, help them with tasks and top it off with a nice little gift. Do this and your child will feel loved, special and appreciated. Loved children will feel safe and happy and they will grow up to be adults who love unconditionally. Make sure that you are a part of that development. Remember that structure, discipline and education are important, but love is the most important thing that you can give your children.