by Victoria Orekhovsky, M.Ed.
We may have heard the phrases “Love is all you need”, “Love conquers all”, or “Healing power of a mother’s love”, but do we stop to think what they mean? We hear about unconditional love, but do we know what kind of love our children need? Research has shown that kids need and respond to certain ‘love languages’ better than to others.
Some children, regardless of their age, need to hear “I love you”, and be praised and recognized for what they do well as they crave Words of Affirmation. Others love being hugged, cuddled, and kissed since they long for Physical Touch. Some children love playing board games, watching TV, and going for walks with their families as they need a lot of Quality Time Together. Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Quality Time together are often considered primary languages. The other two, that are often seen as secondary, are Gifts, and Acts of Service, such as getting a ride to a friend’s house or getting help with a school project.
Research suggests that children need to receive love in all 5 languages but they usually “speak” one of the languages better than others.
This means that we, as parents, need to pay special attention and do certain things to make our children feel truly loved. For example, “Who doesn’t love gifts?”, you might ask. Believe it or not, not all kids do. Some kids could feel guilty for receiving things they don’t need because they may feel privileged. Parenting is one of the biggest challenges that we face in life, but there is no preparatory school that teaches us how to do it. We assume that parenting and loving is a natural process that we figure out as we go along. So when it comes to love languages, we most often give the one that is most natural for us, which is also the one we need from our significant others to feel loved. However, there may be another language that each of our children “hear”. We can observe our interactions with them and become mindful of what they might need from us. It may not feel natural but it can feel very rewarding. It will feel like love.
From Hearts & Minds – TDSB Psychological Services Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 6, February 2021
You can also check out these books: