Children don’t really understand the real meaning of love as their concept is usually derived from they read in storybooks and what they see on television. So, it isn’t surprising that their views of love are idealised expectations about love. Kids may imagine that being in a relationship is just like what fairy tales depict, where there is always happy-ever-after.
Dr Gary Chapman, who wrote The Five Love Languages, says that knowing your child’s love language can make all the difference in your relationship. The five love languages, he explains, are gift giving, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and physical touch.
According to the love languages concept, all individuals have a primary love language within these five. If we knowing what our loved ones’ primary love language are, we can communicate and express our love for them in a more meaningful way.
Eugene Chong, a counselling psychologist, notes that the relationship between parent and child originates from love, so that relating to one another should revolve around how you show love.
Clinical psychologist Agnes Teo stresses that parents should not ignore their offspring’s other four languages, even if they know what their child’s primary love language is. They can pay particular attention to their child’s primary love language, while using all five forms regularly to show their love for their children.
As parents, understanding our child’s primary love language means that we can effectively show our love in a way that is more meaningful to them.
Parents naturally express their love for their children in day-to-day activities. These are communicated through various ways such as picking them up from school, praising them for doing well on a test, or reading a bedtime story together.
However, each child responds to these acts of love differently. For example, one child may prefer spending time at the beach rather than receiving a present. Similarly, another child might prefer a more physical form of expression of love, such as receiving hugs, as compared to praises.
As parents, understanding our child’s primary love language means that we can effectively show our love in a way that is more meaningful to them. Teo says that letting children know that they are loved is essential to a strong parent-child bond, besides contributing to their sense of security and self-esteem.
While the love languages were initially designed to help couples, Chong and Teo will explain that these can easily be incorporated into the parent-child relationship in the following ways:
1. Giving presents
Giving gifts and presents to children is a very powerful expression of love, Teo points out. However, parents should remember that they should not use gifts as a form of bribery or a substitute for being present.
Chong adds that when kids receive presents from their parents, this makes them feel important, valued and loved. However, just like words of affirmation, parents should not do this excessively as the presents will soon lose their meaning and appeal.
2. Words of affirmation
In Asian culture, offering words of affirmation is perceived as excessive because that might make the other person proud and complacent, Chong notes. Be specific when you commend your kid, so as to produce positive results. For instance, praise your child when he did not give up despite experiencing failure after he has attempted something.
Words of encouragement and praise are important to children with this primary love language, Teo explains. Parents should give details when they praise, for example, instead of just saying “good job”, try “Wow, you’ve packed up your room so nicely. Good job!”
Be specific when you commend your kid, so as to produce positive results.
3. Quality time
To spend quality time with their children, parents need to be physically and mentally present with their children, so that they can give them their full attention, Teo notes.
This means not being distracted by electronic gadgets while you share your thoughts, feelings and have fun times together with junior, Chong adds. This particular love language is highly sought after by kids, especially one-to-one moments where they can bond with their parents.
4. Acts of service
Chong notes that parents help their kids resolve a situation, caring for them when they are ill, and doing something before they even request assistance are examples of acts of service. Make sure to refrain from having the habit of brushing your child off with “in 5 minutes…” but forgetting to listen to or deliver on their requests.
5. Physical touch
When you hug, kiss, cuddle during playtime, or demonstrate other physical signs of affection, this is how you show your love for your mini-me. However, Teo cautions that parents should be sensitive to how comfortable their children, especially older children and teenagers, are to these physical expressions of love.
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