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Productive Life Coaching: Discover Your Child’s Love Language

Nov 09, 2021

By Zainub Jada

“Inside every child is an ’emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love.” (Gary Chapman)

Does your child speak a different language? Sometimes they wager for your attention, and other times they ignore you completely. Sometimes they are filled with gratitude and affection, and other times they seem indifferent.

Children express and experience love in different ways. For example, one child prefers physical touch, whereas the other needs words of affirmation. Each of these expressions of love represents a different “language”.

Different kids crave different kinds of attention and affection. The need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need.

The idea behind love languages is to understand and communicate what it takes for a person to feel loved.

Child psychologists state that children have specific basic emotional needs that must be met to be emotionally stable. Among these needs are love and affection, and the need to sense that they belong and are wanted. With these, children are likely to develop into responsible adults.

“In raising children, everything depends on the love relationship between the parent and child….” Much of the misbehaviour of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank’. If you want to give and receive love most effectively, you will need to learn to speak the correct language.”

What makes you and your children feel loved? Have a think about it. Does giving or receiving gifts make you feel loved, or is it a word of praise? What about a hug? Or is it when someone does an act of service for you, like carrying a heavy shopping bag.

Why is it important to know your child’s love language?

Even though our children don’t come with a manual, they show us their preferences in small and large ways every day. Sometimes through yelling and tears, sometimes through uninhibited joy and hugs. Our job as parents is to learn to read their cues and offer guidance to help them reach their fullest potential in life.

When children feel loved, not only does it bolster their self-esteem, but it also gives them a solid foundation and sense of security, so they can more fully explore the world around them, explains Dr Bethany Cook, clinical psychologist and author of “What it’s Worth — a Perspective on How to Thrive and Survive Parenting”. And she isn’t just referring to your kid’s tendency to run around the playground. This sense of security also relates to seeking out and developing relationships with peers, other family members and friends. “When you know your child’s specific love language (or their top two), you can channel your energy toward gestures that reflect their ‘language.’ This takes out the guesswork and means your efforts are hitting at the maximum benefit level,” she adds.

This information is beneficial when your kid is having a hard time with something. If you know their love language, you’ll have specific behaviours in your back pocket that you know can help them feel loved (and hopefully shift their mood). In other words, learning your child’s love language enables you to connect with them and might make parenting a little easier.

How can I figure out which of the five love languages my child prefers?

Here are two ways to identify your kid’s love language:

  • Take an online test aimed at identifying your child’s love language. You can take one developed by Dr Chapman and take one that Dr Cook created.
  • Reflect on times when your child was up. Think about the last time that your kid was sad, or go back to when they were years younger; what were the things that helped them calm down the most? Was it gentle words of kindness while reminding them how amazing they are? Or maybe when your kid was a toddler and having a tantrum, the only thing that would help was picking them off the floor and calmly rocking them until they settled down. Or perhaps when your child was sick and accidentally ruined their favourite shirt, you replaced it with a new one before they even asked. “Looking at what brought comfort to your child in the past can often lead you to their love language now,” says Dr Cook.

How to appeal to your child’s love language 

If our children’s love tanks are empty, it will be hard for them to be or do their best, and they are more likely to get angry or act out. We can fill their “love tanks” more effectively when focusing on learning each of our children’s unique love languages. Every person is individually wired to receive and understand love in different ways. So it’s essential to discover when and how our children feel loved by us.

It’s common to have different love languages within a family, and it can be tricky to navigate. However, once you learn your child’s love language, it can make all the difference in your relationship and happiness.

The five love languages

Physical Touch

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time


Acts of Service

Physical touch, the easiest love language

Hugs and kisses are the most common way of speaking this love language, but other ways are too. A dad tosses his year-old son in the air. He spins his seven-year-old daughter round and round, and she laughs wildly. A mom reads a story with her three-year-old on her lap.

For children who understand this love language, physical touch will communicate love more deeply than the words, “I love you,” or giving a present, fixing a bicycle, or spending time with them. Of course, they receive love in all the languages, but for them, the one with the clearest and loudest voice is physical touch. Without hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical expressions of love, their love tanks will remain less than full.

Words of affirmation call out what’s at the core of each child

In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance, all say, “I care about you.” Such words are like a gentle, warm rain falling on the soul; they nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.

Refrain from using harsh critical words as they affect a child whose primary love language is words of affirmations.

Quality Time says, “You’re important. I like being with you.”

Quality time is focused attention. It means giving a child your undivided attention. Quality time is a parent’s gift of presence to a child. It conveys this message: “You are important. I like being with you.” It makes the child feel that he is the most important person in the world to the parent. He feels truly loved because he has his parent all to himself. When you spend quality time with children, you need to go to their physical/emotional level of development. The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together.

If quality time is your child’s primary love language, you can be sure of this: Without a sufficient supply of quality time and focused attention, your child will experience a gnawing uneasiness that his parents do not really love him.

Gifts are symbols of love and hold special memories

The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love when they are given and often extend into later years. The most meaningful gifts become symbols of love, and those that genuinely convey love are part of a love language.

A child, who often gives you something minor, like a toy wrapped in paper or flowers from the garden, tends to feel loved through gifts. These gifts can be provided together with any of the other love languages.

Most children respond positively to gifts, but for some, receiving gifts is their primary love language. You might be inclined to think that this is so for all children, judging from the way they beg for things. It is true that all children—and adults—want to have more and more. But those whose language of love is receiving gifts will respond differently when they get their gift. Remember, for them; this is love’s loudest voice. They see the gift as an extension of you and your love.

However, there is a difference between a child who sees gifts as an extension of your love and a child who begs and whines for a toy every time you go shopping. A child whose love language is receiving gifts will be happy with the smallest token or even something handmade.

Acts of Service are the big and little things we do that prove we care.

When your child asks you to fix a toy or would like to repair something of yours, sometimes it isn’t about getting the task is done but rather a need for extra love and attention.

If your child’s primary love language is acts of service, you don’t need to jump at every request. However, it is essential to be sensitive to these special requests and understand how your response will either fill your child’s love tank or empty it. Each request calls for a thoughtful, loving response.

Love languages are a secret to happiness

The bottom line is this: when we feel loved and secure, we feel safe and calm within ourselves, even if the world around us appears chaotic. I know that parents are exhausted, kids are frustrated, and families are stressed, but I also know that parents find hope in unexpected places. And I know that kids are adapting and adjusting reasonably well with all the constant changes.

We all thrive with love in our lives. If we can learn and understand how we each experience acts of love, we can shift our responses toward ones that offer a “bigger punch.” Save yourself the R20 on a toy for the child who prefers quality time and create a toy together out of objects at home. Your child will remember the love, not the things.

Knowing how each member of your family receives love best is a secret to happiness.

In a nutshell

The purpose of learning to speak your child’s love language is for you to connect more deeply with your child. This can build their self-worth, which is critical for lifelong self-love and confidence and applies to all ages and development stages.

Building an understanding of your love language and recognizing it may be different from that of your child and your partner and is a powerful tool for building beautiful, strong family bonds and relationships based on unconditional love and understanding that will last a lifetime.

Though Dr Chapman believes that love languages are like personality traits that stay with us for life, your child’s preference might seem to change from moment to moment and stage to stage. A toddler who craves snuggles may grow into a 7-year-old who likes to roughhouse. A kid who basks in praise might become sceptical of your reassurance at some point and instead, need a little quality time.

Stay tuned in to what your child’s reactions and behaviours say about the type of love she needs in any given moment, and there’s no doubt that you’ll continue to connect—and reconnect—as she grows.



2-careforthefamily.org.uk 3-imom.com


5-biglifejournal.com 6-purewow.com




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