We all “speak” different love languages and being aware of what they are, makes it so much easier to communicate with others and show how much we care about them. Talking to your child in his/her particular love language, can help you to connect and make them feel safe and secure in the knowledge that you understand what they’re going through and support whatever they are feeling or expressing during this trying time.
Below is a brief description of these languages, based on the bestselling book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, including some suggestions about supporting your child:
Words of Affirmation
“This language uses words to affirm other people.”
Express kind words of encouragement to your child, about the things they do. Use a gentle tone of voice when you affirm their achievements, no matter how small. Discuss issues around your divorce and acknowledge situations where you child handled it well, supported a sibling or showed a good understanding of the situation etc. Tell them that you love them often and remind them why you love them so much. These children thrive on compliments. Beware of crushing them with criticism or insults.
Acts of Service
“For these people, actions speak louder than words.”
If this is your child’s primary love language, you need to do something for them that you know they would like you to do. When they ask for your help, give it freely. When they criticise or complain, it might be clues to what they need you to do for them. When they are feeling down it would help to ease the burden of their duties and responsibilities, by doing something for them (within reasonable limits of course).
“For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.”
Not to be mistaken for materialism, this love language is about the thought, effort and love behind a gift. Giving your child a gift, will make them feel cared for and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring it to them. Give gifts on birthdays, holidays and special occasions. Surprise them with a tiny gift for no specific reason at all, as little things mean a lot to those with this primary love language.
“This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.”
Give your full, undivided attention. Put everything else on hold, with no interruptions or distractions allowed. Engage 100% in a quality conversation or activity of their choice. Focus, make eye contact and listen. Be present in the moment. Ensure that you schedule regular time with your child if this is their primary love language, in order to keep them feeling loved and valued. It does not have to be hours on end – a few dedicated minutes on a daily basis will go a long way.
“To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.”
Being physically present and accessible for hugs, kisses, holding hands, touching an arm, shoulder or face etc., is what makes a child with this love language happy. Show your care and love by making a lot of physical contact. Love younger children by letting them sit on your lap, piggy-backing and even rough-and-tumbling often. Reach out to touch and hold older children as much as they feel comfortable with.
Not sure what your or your child’s love language is? Click here to discover your love languages in a short, easy survey: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Click here to obtain your copy of The Five Love Languages of Children or The Five Love Languages: https://fairdivorce.co.za/mental-health-resources/
Written by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of fairdivorce.co.za – Stellenbosch RSA)