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The 5 Love Languages of Children Review
In easy-to-follow language, with real-life examples, Gary and Ross set about helping you better show your love for your child or children.
Their main focus is helping you establish what your child’s primary love language is and how to more effectively help your child feel loved.
If you understand your child’s love language, then you are better equipped to understand how your child gives and receives love.
The number one reason you should buy this bestseller is because it teaches you how to show your child, in their love language, that you love them unconditionally, ultimately making them better human beings and you a better parent.
The 5 Love Languages of Children One-Sentence Summary
The secret to raising secure, happy, well-balanced children from infancy to adulthood is to identify and understand their primary love language and then consciously and proactively show them love in each of the 5 love languages of children: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, giving gifts and acts of service.
The 5 Love Languages of Children Summary (Full Summary)
Filling The Emotional Tank
A central idea in Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages is that of an emotional tank.
Gary and Ross state that love is the foundation to any successful relationship with your child.
To help you check in and manage that love, every child can be pictured as having an emotional love tank that should be kept full of unconditional love.
Visualizing, checking-in-with and discussing this idea day-to-day (with your child and/or partner) is a powerful way to help you make sure that your children feel sufficiently and consistently loved."Every child has an emotional tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
It is relatively easy to fill a child’s emotional tank when they’re small.
It gets harder to keep it full as they grow.
But no matter how hard it gets – actively and consistently topping up your child’s love tank is vital to their growth and emotional wellbeing, even when your child seems fine.
So, What Are the 5 Love Languages for Children?
The five love languages of children are:
Children express, receive and understand love in all five love languages, but they usually have one or two primary languages."Practice all five love languages and you can be sure your child will sense your love." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Note: The Five Love Language of Children is best suited to parents with preadolescent children. For children under 5, love languages may be hard to isolate. For teenagers, there are different complications to consider. (See The Five Love Languages of Teenagers for more details.)
Breaking Down the Five Love Languages of Children.
One of the main takeaways in The 5 Love Languages of Children is that children need to feel secure in your unconditional love.
In other words, that you love them with no strings attached.
Because love is abstract, children learn about love from your behavior, which is concrete and easier to observe.
Using a child’s primary love language against them, even unwittingly, can deeply hurt your child.
Fortunately, A heartfelt apology can go a long way to reversing the damage if there is a genuine effort to avoid repeating the same mistake."No child can receive too much appropriate unconditional love." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Note: Children in the same household may have different love languages.
Love Language #1: Physical Touch
The first love language of children is physical touch.
It is one of the easiest ways to show genuine affection. Yet some parents touch their children only when necessary.
That’s a shame because physical contact is one of the most powerful love languages.
Children at different stages may need different kinds of physical touch.
Babies and toddlers receive touch almost instinctually from their parents.
As children grow, they still need physical touch. A hug in the morning and the evening before and after school may make a difference in your child’s emotional security.
Gary and Ross state that both boys and girls require physical touch.
Boys may become resistant to touch in the early primary school years for a time. If that happens, don’t give up! They may respond better to more vigorous contact that comes along with sports and roughhousing.
The reassurance girls need that their parents love them unconditionally increases until it reaches a peak just before they hit puberty."Physical touch is the easiest love language to use unconditionally, because parents need no special occasion or excuse to make physical contact." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Children whose primary love language is touch will respond most strongly to physical affection, above all else.
Note: Physical touch requires no special occasion, but it should never be forced.
Love Language #2: Words of Affirmation
The second love language of children is words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation are powerful and often take the form of affection, praise and encouragement.
Children receive emotional messages long before they understand them.
It is not good enough to only say the words. The tone, volume, and mood contribute to the overall communication of love. Combining words of affirmation with physical closeness (see physical touch) helps reinforce these messages of love."The words 'I love you' should never be diluted with conditional statements… this is true for all children." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
It is vital, say Gary and Ross, to distinguish between affection and praise.
- Affection expresses a parent’s appreciation for who the child is as a person; while
- Praise expresses our appreciation for the things they do.
Children have some control over what they do and what choices they make and praise should not be given without cause.
Note: Children instinctually know when praise is false and may ultimately consider it a form of lying.
Verbal encouragement is another form of words of affirmation.
This encouragement allows us to bolster our children and give them the courage to do more; to try something new, whether it is an activity or new food, and everything in-between.
Verbal encouragement helps your child find their inner motivation.
Children learn by copying their parents and other adults; the same is true for speech. By giving your child words of affirmation correctly, you teach them how to offer words of affirmation to others."A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Love Language #3: Quality Time
The third love language of children is quality time.
Examples of spending quality time with your children include:
- Spending focused time with your child, one-on-one, really listening;
- Talking about and engaging with their interests;
- Doing things they enjoy together; and even
- Running errands together (quality time doesn’t have to be exciting!).
These kinds of interactions ensure that your child feels loved.
Quality time includes making conversation and making positive, direct eye contact. Parents too often only make eye contact with their children when a child is being punished.
All children benefit from their parent’s undivided attention, but none more so than a child whose primary love language is quality time.
It is an excellent way to fill any child’s emotional tank.
Conversely, if the child is desperate enough for attention, they will seek negative attention by pestering you until they annoy you enough that you focus on them.
Try not to let this happen.
In our busy world, quality time requires real sacrifice from parents and becomes harder to fulfill as the child gets older.
Quality time gives children an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings. They may share something that’s bothering them or something that’s important to them.
This is one of the reasons quality time is so important, even if quality time is not your child’s primary love language.
Gary and Ross suggest planning quality time and penciling it into your schedule if you struggle with quality time."Quality time is a parent's gift of presence to a child. It conveys this message: 'You are important. I like being with you'." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Love Language #4: Receiving Gifts
The fourth love language of children is receiving gifts.
The love language of gifts is easy to speak, but hard to speak well.
It is easy to buy a gift as a symbol of love but getting your child a meaningful gift is much more challenging.
For a gift to be a genuine expression of love that your child understands, give it in conjunction with the other love languages.
Note: A true gift, one that expresses your unconditional love, cannot be given as a payment for certain behaviors or achievements.
It does not need to be expensive or large. Gary and Ross advocate making a big deal out of gift-giving for a child whose primary love language is gifts.
- Wrapping the present beautifully;
- Making gift-giving almost ceremonial; and
- Making a big deal when giving children necessities like new clothes.
Gifting, done right, teaches your child to respond appropriately when they receive gifts while teaching them how to gift correctly to others.
And remember, sometimes less is more.
Don’t overwhelm your children with gifts until their room resembles a toy store.
Instead, take the time to make thoughtful and impactful gift choices. Long-term symbolism (e.g., incorporating a favorite animal or symbol or theme into your gifts) is a great way to personalize your gifts and is an important aspect of gifts as a love language."The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Love Language #5: Acts of Service
The fifth love language of children is acts of service.
Parenting is a service-oriented and life-long vocation. Acts of service for your children can be physically and emotionally demanding and require your own emotional tank to be full.
The trick to showing love through acts of service is to act in the child’s best interests rather than do what will please them, though they may coincide.
We serve children, but we are not their slaves.
Thus, as they grow, we teach them to become independent and self-sufficient while balancing it with impromptu or deliberate acts of service to help them and keep their emotional tanks full.
Acts of service must be age-appropriate.
And you should not do for children what you have taught them to do for themselves.
Even if your child’s primary love language is acts of service, you do not need to jump at every request.
You do, however, need to maintain an awareness of what it is that they are really asking for, beyond the obvious.
Helping your children when they have a need is powerful way to express love.
Don’t underestimate the impact of a quick hand to help finish their homework or a specially prepared favorite breakfast in conveying your unconditional love."The ultimate purpose of acts of service to children is to help them emerge as mature adults." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
How to Discover Your Child’s Primary Love Language.
Discovering your child’s love language requires thoughtful investigation.
While trying to establish your child’s primary love language, don’t discuss it with them at first. They may manipulate you to satisfy their desires, which won’t help you meet their emotional needs.
Instead, consider the following:
- How does my child express their love to me?
- How does my child express love to others?
- What does your child ask for most often?
- What does your child complain about? and
- Let your children choose between two love languages*
*This needs to doing over a few weeks, and you need to record the requests and choices. Outliers may occur where the choice coincides with a passing desire on a particular day. Choices also need to be age-appropriate. You will not give a 6-year-old and a 15-year-old the same choice or phrase it the same way.
Note: While communicating to your child in their primary love language is vital…"The ability to give love and nurture in all the languages will make your children more balanced persons who can function well in society." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
And a final heads up: Not all love languages are easy to spot and, as they grow and learn about themselves and the world, a child’s primary love language may change.
Keep adapting and keep trying new things.
The rewards are worth the effort…
The Importance and Benefits of Love Languages.
Your child needs to know that they are loved, and by identifying your child’s love language, you can better communicate that love. But, there are other benefits.
- Disciplining Your Child;
- Aiding Your Child in Learning;
- Managing Anger; and
- Single Parent Households.
Let’s have a look in more detail…
Disciplining Your Child: The 5 Methods
Drs Chapman and Campbell dedicate an entire chapter to disciplining your child and the five methods they recommend."Discipline involves the long and vigilant task of guiding a child from infancy to adulthood." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
The 5 methods for disciplining your child are:
- Making requests – positive method, respectful of their feelings;
- Issuing commands – negative, necessary when requests fail;
- Gentle physical manipulation – for younger children*;
- Punishment – negative and challenging, it must match the wrongdoing. Shouldn’t be primary; and
- Behavior modification – using positive or negative reinforcement to control behavior. Don’t overuse.
* do not punish a very young child for saying no. It is an essential skill and paramount to their development.
When disciplining your child, act with love before and after so that your child knows you are disciplining the misbehavior and not the person. Be kind but firm."Understanding your child's primary love language will help you choose the best method of discipline." Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Do not discipline your child in a manner linked to their primary love language. It can hurt them deeply.
Aiding Your Child in Learning
A child is better able to learn when their emotional maturity is appropriate for their age. Their emotional growth is constant, and parents should be willing and able to support and assist their children with this growth.
Children benefit immensely from parents who are actively involved in their learning. Parents must maintain that learning is a child’s responsibility but offer assistance if needed.
Children and adults alike struggle to manage anger. Use the love languages as a tool to help your children identify and positively manage their anger, rather than allowing it to go unchecked.
A chapter dedicated to anger in this book includes a handy illustration of the anger ladder (covered in depth in Chapman’s book Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion."How your child learns to handle anger will largely influence the development of his personal integrity." - Gary Chapman Click To Tweet
Single Parent Households
Single-parent households are common in today’s world.
Your child needs great emotional support during what is already a difficult time for you.
It is vital to keep your own emotional tank full, to keep your child’s love tank full.
That’s easier said than done, and the authors write about these circumstances at great length in The 5 Love Languages of Children.
Don’t be afraid to call on a loved one for help.
Love Languages in the Household.
As the book winds up, Gary and Ross remind you to keep your and your spouse’s emotional tank full to better provide emotional support to your child or children.
Identifying all of the love languages in your household is a worthy endeavor, even if you are not consciously using them.
To assist you in identifying the love languages of your children, you can reference the handy love language mystery game at the back of the book.
The 5 Love Languages of Children FAQs
What Are the 5 Different Love Languages for Children?
The 5 different love languages of children are:
- Physical Touch;
- Words of Affirmation;
- Quality Time;
- Giving Gifts; and
- Acts of Service.
How Do You Explain Love Languages to a Child?
The best way to explain love language to a child is to keep it simple: "A love language is how I tell you that I love you, no matter what, for who you are. It is a way to show love."
Why Is It Important to Know Your Child's Love Language?
Knowing your child's love language is important because:
- It helps you establish how to keep your child's emotional tank full;
- It helps you show your love to your children effectively; and
- It helps your children grow into mature adults capable of giving and receiving love correctly.
How Do You Know What Your Child's Love Language Is?
The best ways to know what your child's love language is is to:
- Talk to, listen to and observe your children;
- Take note of what love language they ask for most;
- Take note of what love language they give the most; and
- Play the love language mystery game.
The 5 Love Languages of Children Quotes
“Every child has an emotional tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence.”
“Practice all five love languages and you can be sure your child will sense your love.”
“No child can receive too much appropriate unconditional love.”
“Physical touch is the easiest love language to use unconditionally, because parents need no special occasion or excuse to make physical contact.”
“The words ‘I love you’ should never be diluted with conditional statements… this is true for all children.”
“A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.”
“Quality time is a parent’s gift of presence to a child. It conveys this message: ‘You are important. I like being with you’.”
“The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love.”
“The ultimate purpose of acts of service to children is to help them emerge as mature adults.”
“The ability to give love and nurture in all the languages will make your children more balanced persons who can function well in society.”
“Discipline involves the long and vigilant task of guiding a child from infancy to adulthood.”
“Understanding your child’s primary love language will help you choose the best method of discipline.”
“How your child learns to handle anger will largely influence the development of his personal integrity.”
Read More: 5 Books Like The 5 Love Languages of Children
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