I bet you’ve heard of The 5 Love Languages? You may have even taken the quiz to find out which one you identify with the most. Have you ever thought about what your child’s love language is? How does your daughter give and receive love? Is it through receiving gifts like her favorite snack? Does your son light up with words of affirmation? After months of being home, you might think you know your child’s love language, but there’s only one way to find out.
Thanks to Dr. Gary Chapman’s 1992 book “The 5 Love Languages” and the online quizzes, we have a better understanding of specific ways to demonstrate and practice love. It had been a while since I looked at my quiz results. Imagine my surprise to see quiz options for kids ages 5 to 17*. Kids ages 9 to 12 answer questions about which statement they prefer to hear—such as “let’s watch TV together” or “tag, you’re it”—while teens 13 to 17 choose a statement that fits them better, such as “I like to receive affirming notes and texts” or “I like to be hugged.”
While I love my son and I know he loves me, I didn’t know how he liked to show and receive love. After his virtual school day ended, I read the statements and he selected his preference one by one, revealing that his primary love language is receiving gifts. I can’t think of one parent, regardless of a child’s age, who doesn’t want a stronger relationship with one’s child or children. One way to do that is to find out how they want to be loved. Get ready to invest your effort while keeping an open heart. Be prepared to put into practice what you learn.
Children deserve your effort
Trust me … I know it will take time to ask your children the questions and decipher the results. They are worth it and so is the relationship you have with them. It feels good to know someone took time to “go the extra mile,” right? Our children are no different. The time you spend learning your child’s love language will have immeasurable benefits.
Open your heart and your mind
As parents, we’re never too old to learn, which includes learning new ways to be better parents. The 5 Love Languages quizzes are not rocket science! Be open to learning new ways to connect with your children for their benefit and development.
Practice makes you better
Your children took the quiz. You know their love language … now what? It’s time to put what you’ve learned to action. The following are some ideas to help you love your child according to his or her special language:
- Receiving gifts: Pick up the snack or trinket you heard your son mention. It’s all about your thoughtfulness for this one.
- Words of affirmation: Go beyond physical compliments and tell your daughter she is creative. Leave a note on your son’s computer reminding him he’s unique.
- Quality time: Go for a walk, watch a movie, play a game or read a book together. We play Uno and watch “Sister, Sister.”
- Acts of service: Help your daughter build a LEGO masterpiece. Grab the dish towel to pitch in on your son’s dish-washing day
- Physical touch: A gentle stroke of the hair, a hug or even a hand on your child’s shoulder sends a reassuring message of love.
Our children’s first relationships are with us, and as their parents, we can shape their understanding of what healthy connections should look like.
*For kids ages 5 to 8, engage them in activities where they talk about or draw how parents love their children.
Krystal Henry is an educator, writer and blogger on her “Around the Way Mom” blog. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and son.
This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue of Baltimore’s Child, a sister publication of Frederick’s Child.