To first kick us off, in honor of Valentine’s day, we want to talk about Love languages, and how they help with the interactions with kiddos!
If you’re not familiar with what love languages are its a book written by Gary Chapman that breaks down the fundamental ways we love and ask to be loved in return. Initially its for couples seeking to learn more about one another, but it has fantastic applications across all relationships! There’s a quiz you can take HERE and we really encourage our families to do it together!
That being said, love languages can show themselves in many different ways, and allow us to learn more about each other and the ways we interact and have meaningful relationships. The five love languages are Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts.
Quality time in many ways is one of the most common love languages. This is identified in a child by their need for un-interrupted attention and one on one time. The best way to take action for a child that needs quality time is to set aside a time in your calendar for particular activities or moments with them. Take them to the park, go and paint pottery, or snuggle up with a book at night! Quality time may seem like a given, something that’s done regardless, but frequently parents get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and can be distracted from what they’re doing with their kiddo, or even go long periods without spending time and have those extraordinary moments with them. This, unfortunately, leaves the child feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.
Physical Touch is about body language and the non-verbal ways we show one another we love each other. Some children thrive off ofhugs and kisses, and oh what a beautiful thing! Ensuring to have loving physical contact with this child, will only ensure they succeed and feel safe and protected. This can be done by nighttime cuddles, hugs, and kisses in the morning before setting them off to school, and several other loving things! Remember, this is all about body language and what they perceive the demeanor and intention to be, so the way to leave them unhappy is to have aggressive, disinterested or un-affectionate interactions.
Words of Affirmation are all about encouragement, affirmation, and active listening. So children thrive off of love through hugs, some love to feel the love through words. This can be done by praising them for an excellent job on an assignment, or a problem at school, listening intently when they speak, or even going so far as to leave a note for them to find in their lunch! A child with a Words of affirmation love language thrives off of genuine encouragement and kinds words. Actively avoid non-constructive criticism, or not recognizing how hard they worked on something. If they studied and studied for a test and didn’t do well, actively listen to their needs, and encourage them to do better next time!
Acts of Service is less prevalent in children but still can be seen. A child with acts of service is seeking help and companionship. They thrive off of working to accomplish something together, and like follow through when asked for something. Acts of service enjoy doing mundane and often unhappy things together. As teaching your child the importance of a clean room, or chores around the house, turn some music on, dance and work together with them to get it done!
Finally, the love language of Receiving gifts is a complex one with children. Toys and physical possessions clearly make them happy! However, a receiving gifts language is generally discernable in a child because of the genuine appreciation and gratitude of the gift received. They also, more than any other group, practice their language! This may be visible, by randomly handing you things at the playground, drawing a picture for you, or even saving their money for something special! With these kiddos, it’s best to avoid unenthusiastic gift giving and non-genuine appreciation for what they gave you.
Love languages are a beautiful and wonderful thing! They teach us about how to love and be loved in return. AKC hopes you’ll keep an eye out for our other blog posts and actively seek ways to use your love language to serve the community and the youth of Austin!