How to use the 5 love languages to better fill your child’s love tank
There’s someone in my family who loves me dearly. They show it to me with little surprise presents like a treat from the shop or doing things for me. I know they love me but I don’t feel it. I tell my kids all the time I love them, I build them up with words to inspire them. One of my kids often remarks, ‘You never spend time with me.’ They know I love them but they don’t feel it. Knowing and feeling love can be different things.
In the blog and video on filling your child’s love tank I mention that while you may think you are giving love, your child may not be receiving it. To fill their love tanks with unconditional love, you need to do your homework to find out how best to reach them. This means detecting how you can best convey your love and how they best receive it.
The five love languages
Dr Ross Campbell (an Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Psychiatry) and Gary Chapman (a Relationship Counsellor), in The Five Love Languages of Children1 discuss how few children feel unconditionally loved by their parents even though the parents may say ‘I love you’ and genuinely mean it. They say to fill children’s love tanks you can express love in five different languages:
- physical touch
- quality time
- acts of service – actions speak louder than words
- words of affirmation – using words to affirm a person
The authors comment that although we need and use all five languages of love, we have a primary language that we use.
As a parent you may speak one love language but your child may hear best in a different love language. Learning to speak the child’s primary language increases the chance of the child knowing they are unconditionally loved.
Using love languages in practice
In my example at the beginning can you identify my primary love language? My child’s language? The person who loves me? Did you say – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service?
Once I understood the concept and worked out who ‘spoke ‘ which language I realised why I struggled to feel loved and why no matter how many times I told my child how much I loved them, they complained I didn’t because I didn’t spend time with them. It eased my frustration and helped me to consciously speak other love languages back to the person who loves me even though it feels weird, and to speak love to my child with less words and more time.
Where can you learn yours and your child’s love languages?
You can observe your actions and your children. What do they ask of you: a back rub, to sit and play with them, to listen to them, for a present, or do they try to make your breakfast?
How about you? Do you use words or buy little treats for them, or prefer a snuggle?
You can use the quizzes as I did the old fashioned way – before the days of the internet – using tests in The love language books or check out the website: Five languages of love. Take the quizzes today and discover your love language and your child’s love language.
Read more on love languages and learn how to speak the languages that are not natural to you by looking at the resources below and clicking here
Once you know the languages and how to speak them then you have to work out ways to bridge the gaps between you. It’s helpful to recognise when others are speaking love to you in a language you don’t readily use, to affirm that you are loved. It may feel awkward at first but I found it has improved my relationships with both my kids and others.
Putting legs on it
Do some research and detective work. How do you show love? How does your child receive it? What strategies can you use to bridge any gaps between you?
Gary Chapman: Keeping the love tank full
Gary Chapman: The 5 love languages profile for children
busykidshappymom: Five languages of love – love tank
motherhow.com: How to love your child? Inspired by Ross Campbell
- Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. The Five Love Languages of Children S.A: Northfield Publishing, 1997.
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