Saturday, August 20, 2011

Parenting with the 5 Love Languages

I recently read the book 'The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and it really inspired me to be a better wife and learn how to show my husband love in the way that he will fully appreciate and understand.  For anyone in a relationship I would recommend that book and I think that knowing and understanding the 5 Love Languages can improve all of your relationships!  While I was reading that book I was thinking a lot about how I could apply the concept with my children, and I was pleased to find that there is a book written specifically about using the 5 love languages with children!  I have been reading through this book and it has left me with a lot to think about, and it has definitely inspired me to be a better parent to my three children!e
You can find this book on Amazon!
This book explains the 5 Love Languages in detail, so even if you haven't read the first book you will gain a good understanding of them.  Each chapter goes over a specific love language and how you can express that language to children.
The Five Love Languages are;
Physical Touch
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Quality Time

you can read more about each love languages here.

One of my favorite concepts of this book is that all of us have "A Love Tank", and like a car if it is full of gasoline it will run better, but if it low or empty it will begin to have problems.  The Five Love Languages give us clues and tips as to how to help fill the "Love Tanks" of our family members.  With children, when their Love Tank is full they will be a lot more receptive and less defiant.  If their Love Tank is empty or low they will begin to act out as a way of testing whether or not you really love them, or out of fear or anger that their emotional needs are not being met.  Additionally, knowing their Love Language will help you know what you can do to fill that Love Tank!  It's like knowing what kind of gas or oil your car needs for optimal performance... if you keep filling it up with the wrong stuff, you may be wondering why it isn't performing well enough or having problems.  You may say "I Love You" to your child every day but if they aren't receiving love from you in the Love Language that they understand, they may be doubting your words, because they just don't feel it.
Another main point I have gathered from this book is that children need to be loved in all five love languages.  This not only helps ensure that their Love Tank is full, but it teaches them the value of all the different ways to express love and helps them become more balanced individuals.  The difference is you should focus on giving them "an overdose" of love in their primary love language, as this is what will mean the most to them and truly speak your love to them loud and clear.
Figuring out your child's Love Language isn't easy.  The book does include a quiz (also found on this website) but relates that the best way to actually figure out your child's primary love language is to watch your child's reaction to the different love languages as you express them.  Once you figure out what your child's primary love language is, continue speaking all five love languages but make sure you give them "extra" of their primary love language.

Here is a list I compiled of ways to express each of the 5 Love Languages.  I wrote this list with my own children in mind so feel free to come up with your own and add to the list!

Speaking The 5 Love Languages to Childrenexpress your love in these 5 ways every day!

Physical Touch;Hugs, Kisses, Pat on the back or head, Back rub, Back scratch, massage, foot rub, Brush their hair, paint their nails, manicure or pedicure, hold hands, cuddle, tickle, wrestle (physical play), have child sit in lap while watching tv or reading a book.

Words of Affirmation;Specific compliments, "Good Job", Thankyou's and words of gratitude, specific praise for accomplishments, randomly tell them something you like about them or some way you are proud of them, say "I love you" often and with inflection, play the "I Love You because..." game (go back and forth with parent and child exchanging words of why they love each other.)

Gifts;Gifts for no reason (does not have to be costly!), special surprises, gifts and cards on special occasions, make a gift of picture for the child, make a collage of photos of the child or a special time you had together, love notes (hidden in lunch boxes, backpacks, or bedroom where the child will find them), stickers, rewards, hide a gift to be found and give the child clues on where to find it, gift of a movie or trip to a favorite restaurant, make every day items a "present" by how they are given (If you wrap up that new toothbrush or those new socks, the "giving" becomes the focus!)  The gift of an ice cream cone or a Popsicle!

Acts of Service;Help with their homework, help with a project, brush their hair or give them a manicure or massage, make a special snack for them, make their favorite meal, help them learn a new skill, help them study, help them fix things, help them clean their room or help them with their chores.

Quality Time; Read together, watch movie or tv together, play a board game or cards, spend extra time at bedtime to tuck in/say prayers, set aside daily time to talk together, do a puzzle, make a meal or snack together, do arts and crafts or coloring together, do chores together, eat together, take walks or hikes or bike rides together.

Obviously there are so many ways to express each love language!  I really encourage any parent to read the book to understand the full nature of the Love Languages and how they should be used.  I have found it inspiring and I am (slowly but surely) changing some of my own behaviors in order to better fill those "Love Tanks" of my children!

The book also covers how the love languages are important in other areas of parenting, such as discipline, anger, and even in how a child learns.  It has a chapter on Love Languages for single parent homes or divorced parents too.  Learn more here....

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