I have been a mother for 22 years now. In my years of “mothering” my children, I have been constantly changing, seeking, and learning. Trying to be the best mom that I could be has always been a goal. Some days have been great, while others wound up feeling like dismal failures. Over the years, I have found that when trying to build a relationship with my child, or anyone for that matter, it is very helpful to have tools to figure out what makes them tick. What matters to them? How can I show them I love them? What do I say or what actions of mine will help my child become the adult I would like them to be? A book I have loved and used over and over in my parenting is The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
The premise of The 5 Love Languages of Children book is that if you build a foundation of unconditional love (agape) with your child by helping him/her feel loved in a way that he/she understands. In order to do this, you need to watch and study your child. As he/she grows and learns, ask questions in order to see what two Love Languages he/she is exhibiting at that time. Keep in mind that because we are always learning and growing, the Love Language can change.
The Five Love Languages are:
1. Physical Touch- Hugs and kisses, a dad tossing his child in the air, a mom reading with her child on her lap, wrestling or spinning a child around are all examples of physical touch.
2. Words of Affirmation- Words of affection, praise, endearment and encouragement stick with a child for a long time. Likewise, cutting words do not leave a child for a long time, so words must be chosen carefully.
3. Quality Time- What really makes a quality time individual feel loved is undivided attention. This can be 15 minutes or a few hours, but time spent with him/her is what will make him/her feel loved.
4. Gifts- This one can appear tricky because it can seem materialistic. The key to showing love to an individual who is a gifts person is not the amount spent on the gift or even the size but the meaning behind the gift. The gift must be given to show “heart felt love” and shows he/she is known and loved, such as the gift of a new set of coloring pencils for the child who loves to draw for hours.
5. Acts of Service- Show a child love by serving him/her and doing for him/her things he/she is unable to do on his/her own. Model the concept of serving others with the hope that as your child grows into adult, he/she will do the same for others.
I highly recommend the 5 Love Languages series of books. They have helped me to be a better mother, a better friend, and show love to those around me. I encourage you to check out the book.