Want to learn more about your child's love language?

“From as early as I can remember, I loved drawing; I might have forgotten to have breakfast or put on my shoes, but I never ventured anywhere without a pack of crayons and scraps of paper.”

I individually ask preschool-aged children, “Do you feel that your Mom (Dad) loves you?” “Yes!” each child exclaims. “How do you know? What does your Mom (Dad) do that makes you feel loved?” 

“She helps me and takes good care of me.”

“She reads me stories.”

“She kisses me, and when Dad hugs me.”

“He says he loves me.”

“At bedtime she says, ‘Goodnight, Daddy and I love you.’”

“Papa loves me because he cleans with me. Mom takes me to school and picks me up.”

“Dad takes me to the park and Mom cooks for me and all that.”

“Because she puts make-up on me and because Dad plays with me.”

I ask to see what children say about their parents’ expressions of love. Their responses fit into Gary Chapman’s five love language categories. He says the value of discovering your child’s primary love language is that it gives you the most effective means of communicating emotional love.

Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages to help couples develop stronger relationships by teaching them to speak each other’s love language. The languages are five basic categories: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time. Most people like love expressed in all five ways, though we usually have one or two preferences. The idea is that if I know how a loved one best feels love, I can choose to express my love in that way.

I wonder about my preferred expression. My husband gives me gifts, writes sweet Aspects of Susan notes, takes me to museums, and cuddles me often. However, I feel especially loved by him when he works in the garden with me, goes to the grocery store for me, or makes me a nice dinner (acts of service). My husband feels especially loved when I write my feelings to him (words of affirmation). 

Each child, too, expresses love through different communication styles and later Chapman collaborated with Ross Campbell, MD to write The 5 Love Languages of Children.

Want to discover more about your child's communication style? Here is some information to get you started.

Parent:  “Do you feel that I love you?”

Child:  “Yes!”
Parent:  “How do you know? What do I do that makes you feel loved?”

Words of Affirmation: (encouragement; affirmation)  “I know my mom and dad love me because they cheer for me when I play ball, and after the game they say 'Nice job, you did your best.'”

Gifts: (given with heart)  “I know my dad loves me because he bought me this stuffed lion when he was on his trip.”

Acts of Service: (doing what is best for another)  “I know my mom loves me because she sews the buttons on my shirt when they fall off and also helps me with my homework.”

Physical Touch: (hugs and holding) “I know my mommy loves me because she cuddles me every night.”

Quality Time: (undivided attention; doing something together) “I know my mom loves me. She comes to my soccer games.”

Some examples of the many ways to convey the different love languages:
Words of Affirmation: Words of affection and endearment, words of encouragement that convey care. “I love you, I love sitting next to you, or I notice that you smile and say nice things to your friends.
Gifts:  Give a gift with an affirming statement. “I missed you while I was gone, so I brought you something I thought you might like.”
Physical Touch: Hugs and kisses, holding hands, or holding a young child on your lap are examples.
Quality Time: When parents (one at a time) provide undivided attention by reading a story, taking a bike ride or walk, or doing something the child would like to do.

General Comments
Observe how your child expresses love to you. 
Observe how your child expresses love to others. 
Listen to what your child requests most often. 
Notice what your child most frequently complains about. 
Give your child a choice between two options such as: Would you like me to make you a fruit salad (acts of service) or for us to take a walk in the park (quality time)?  Would you rather wrestle (physical touch) or read a story together (quality time)? While I am out of town, would you rather I bring you a present (gift) or write a poem for you  (words of affirmation)?  
If a parent says, “I will give you an ice cream if you clean your room,” this is payment for a service, not gift.

Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, Chicago:  Northfield Publishing, 1995.
Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, MD, Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1997.

*Rashiecoats is the name of the main character in a Scottish Cinderella story of the same name. However, Rashiecoats does not include glass slippers, a pumpkin coach, step-sisters, or fairy godmothers. Rashiecoats is the daughter of a king. She is doomed to marry a man she does not love. Rashiecoats escapes the castle and sets out to find a husband she loves.