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Sunday, November 13, 2016

5 love languages for kids

In college I took a class on the 5 love languages for adults and loved it.  I use what I learned in my relationships all the time, especially in my marriage.  That's why I was so excited when I went to a church activity several months ago and they gave us a handout on the 5 love languages - for children!  I went home and had my girls both take the quiz right away.
For those of you not familiar with the five love languages, it has to do with how one gives or receives love.  The five languages - words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time spent together, receiving gifts and physical touch can be expressed or received in different ways.
For example, my husband's go to language to express his love tends to be acts of service but that isn't necessarily how I receive love.  If we have a disagreement or if I'm sad, he will get to work doing dishes, wiping down walls, whatever he can think of to show me how much he loves me.  However, he can do all the dishes in the world and it won't mean as much to me as if he just spends quality time with just me or buys me flowers.  I'm happy the dishes were done but it doesn't make me feel very loved.  Does that make one language better than another?  Of course not.  By recognizing how we both express and receive love helps us both to meet each other's needs and also recognize the love the other one is trying to give.
I could go on and on about how this helps me in my marriage but that isn't what this post is about.  Back to the kids.
It makes sense that my daughters, although young, would have love languages that make them feel loved more than others as well.  The quiz here is for 9 to 12-year-olds but I gave it to my 6 and 3-year-old anyway and it's been really helpful as a parent.
I figured my oldest daughter would have "quality time" at or near the top, as she hates to be alone and it seems really important to her to do things together.  What I didn't anticipate is how important to her "receiving gifts" is.
Also, something that was very interesting with this daughter was that I gave her the quiz once and asked which she would prefer coming from me.  Then I had her take the quiz a second time and asked which she would prefer coming from her dad.  From me physical touch was at the bottom with only 2 points for that category.  She has always been a daddy's girl though so coming from her dad physical touch was actually at the top.  She loves it when her dad holds her and it helps her feel safe and loved.  Coming from me doesn't have the same effect though, which is interesting to know.
We did this quiz months ago and I talked with my husband about the results.  Since then, it has been really valuable to me because if my daughter is having a harder time or needs some extra love, I know how to reach out to her.  I buy her a little gift - even just a sucker from the store or 50 cent notebook and leave it on her bed or pull her aside and give it to her.  Her face lights up and she feels loved and appreciated.  She talks about it for weeks.
If the need for love is more immediate and I can't run to the store, I spend good, quality time with her.  I put on a movie for my younger kids and play a short card game - with just her - or let her stay up 10 minutes past bed time to get some good one-on-one time together.  Sometimes when she is having a hard day and can't seem to obey or stop picking on her sisters this is all it takes to kick her out of it.  It's amazing how powerful helping someone feel loved is.
My 3-year-old couldn't be more different.  If I got her a sucker at the store she would probably take two licks and put it down or forget to eat it at all.  Even if it was a toy she really wanted, she would be thrilled I got it for her but it wouldn't make her feel any more loved.  It wouldn't make her feel closer to me.  My 3-year-old's love language is touch.  That girl loves to be cuddled.  She stops her play multiple times a day to come give me a hug and tell me that I'm "the best mommy eber".  When she is having a hard time I stop everything and just hold her - sometimes for up to half an hour.  Cuddle her, stroke her hair, tickle her back, whatever it takes.  It calms her right down.
I love what I learned from giving my girls these quizzes.  I highly recommend it.  It's made me a better parent.  Sometimes the way people receive love doesn't come naturally but knowing what they need to help feel loved and valued makes it so much easier to reach them in a way they will actually feel loved.

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