Have you ever tried to learn a second language? I took French in college but since I don’t readily practice it, I barely remember any of what I learned other than a few phrases like “je ne sais pas” or “je t’aime!” Speaking a second language reminds me of talking to my kids at times. We’re talking to each other but sometimes the meaning is lost in translation.
One of my favorite books, The Five Love Languages of Children by Dr Gary Chapman, explains that we all have ways that we show others we love them without speaking, a special way we express and interpret love, called “love languages.” I’ve used this book to help me understand the different love languages my children speak. In fact, I have little notes all over the pages for quick reference when I feel the need to really pipe down and “reach” one of my children. Dr Chapman names the five love languages as: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
For example, my husband loves a clean house and pays more attention to me when I am washing dishes or mopping a floor. That tells me his love language is most likely acts of service. When I am doing anything to ease his burden of responsibility he feels loved and that I care about his feelings. My youngest child is a mix of quality time and physical touch. She likes to be within my physical presence most of the time and was my biggest cuddler. She is the one who loves to have me sit in her bed and read to her, watch movies together or go on special shopping sprees. My other daughter most definitely craves words of affirmation. Saying something to her without carefully choosing the right words or the right tone can set her off and shatter her confidence. In her mind, words are not easily forgotten whether good or bad. Just knowing that each of my children “speaks” differently has helped me in my parenting practices and even staved off power struggles.
By making an effort to learn your child’s love language and taking the time to “speak it,” not only are you letting them know you love them, but you are also building a stronger relationship. What if you could say or do just the right thing to make your child feel loved? Wouldn’t you give it a try?