Do you know your child’s love language? One of my favorite aspects of the Ezzo books is their discussion of love languages. The idea is fully explored in a separate book, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, but it is a philosophy the Ezzos endorse. As parents, it is our job to learn how our kids express and receive love and to love them according to their unique love language.
The concept applies to any age. Have you ever given someone a gift and received a lackluster response? Has your spouse ever complained about not feeling loved while you feel like all you do is show him love? Everybody communicates and receives love in different ways. No way is better or worse. The key is knowing the specific love languages of your loved ones.
Here’s a basic rundown of the five love languages and ways to recognize them in your child:
Words of encouragement
Words of encouragement means exactly that. Someone with this love language expresses love by offering words of praise. Examples include:
- That dress looks great on you.
- I loved the way you helped your brother today.
- You do a great job of showing your best manners at the table.
This might be your child’s love language if he is regularly giving you and others words of encouragement.
Acts of service
Some people communicate love by doing for others. If your spouse goes out of his way to do things for you, acts of service is likely his love language. Examples:
- Your spouse puts gas in your car without you asking.
- You make a special dinner for your family.
- Your spouse puts the children to bed while telling you to rest.
Children express acts of service by helping you out with chores. Do you find your child helping you sweep, wanting to help fold clothes or do an extra-special job putting away his toys?
Often a simple gesture, giving gifts is a way to express love. Examples include:
- Your spouse brings home a souvenir from a business trip.
- Your dad spontaneously brings home flowers for your mom throughout the year.
- Your spouse’s eyes light up when you give him a gift.
Think of gifts from a child as something that has value to him, not necessarily to you. Sharing his dessert, drawing a special picture and wrapping up a toy can be signs that gift-giving is your child’s love language.
Quality time requires that you invest yourself in the other person by offering your undivided attention. Do you find your spouse complaining that you don’t spend enough time together, while you think you do everything together? The key is making sure that time is quality time. Examples:
- Your spouse turns off the TV and asks you sit next to him.
- You plan a special date night.
- You spouse is thrilled with the idea of couch time.
For a child, spending quality time together means doing his favorite things with him or taking him out for some one-on-one time. You might recognize this in your child if he often asks you to play with him.
My oldest, William, loves his quality time. Before his brother was born, he was always asking me to play. Now, they are each other’s best friends. I’ve also discovered that timeouts are really effective with him because he hates to be alone.
Physical touch and closeness
Physical touch is simple to understand. Yet, this love language also includes spending time together in the same room. Different from quality time, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are together. Examples:
- You’re reading a book and decide to go sit in the same room with your spouse.
- Your spouse doesn’t want to watch the show you’re watching, and rather than leave the room, he will bring his newspaper and sit with you.
- Your child wants you to sit with him while he does his homework.
This love language is easy to spot in children. They tend to be overly affectionate and easily respond to any touch. My little one, Lucas, is this way. He would hug and kiss me all day if I let him. If I play with his hair or rub his neck, he goes into a little trance. So cute.
There are a few things to keep in mind with love languages:
- Some people have one or two love languages. Usually, one takes priority over another, but both should be considered.
- Some parents can’t recognize a child’s love language until they are age 5 or older.
- Sometimes our loved ones know our love language better than we do ourselves.
There is a whole series of books on love languages by Gary Chapman. Plus, the Growing Kids God’s Way book includes a test where you rank certain acts of love to discover your love language. It’s an enlightening exercise for the whole family.