By: Katie Weishaar, Celebree in Westminster
Ever feel like life is just a daily rush of “I have to get this done”, “I need to get to work”, “I have to cook dinner” and the monotony of routine tasks? Yup, I’m right there with you. I wonder daily how I can get more time in my day, especially to spend with my husband and son. Amongst the rush of the day-to-day tasks, I also wonder if I’m spending “enough” time with my 4-year old. Does he know I love him with all my heart, unconditionally?
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a great resource to begin exploring how your child needs to feel loved and ways to express unconditional love towards him or her. We all have an innate need for love and we all feel it in a different way. How do you like to be loved?
Below, I’m going to take you on a journey through Chapman’s 5 love languages so you can make the most of the relationships you have with your child, and maybe even your spouse!
Love Language 1 is physical touch. Research shows that physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love to others. In the area of child development, babies who are held, touched and kissed develop a healthier emotional life versus babies who are not. I know my 4 year old loves to “snuggle” on the couch, have extra kisses and hugs at bedtime (ever hear “just one more hug/kiss” right before bed or a morning drop off?) and of course holding hands is another expression of love through physical touch.
Filling your child’s love tank with physical touch is probably easier when they are younger. Who doesn’t want to snuggle their baby or toddler, but as children grow this can become more difficult because they are “too cool for a snuggle”. Some ideas for older children may be secret handshakes or tucking them in at night. I still remember my first night away at college, and missing my mom tucking me in for bed.
Love Language 2 is words of affirmation. Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation. For children, complimenting their singing, “I love listening to you sing, your voice is so beautiful” or “you did a great job picking out that outfit, it’s really colorful”. If your child can read, don’t forget to add the little love notes in their lunch “You studied so hard last night; I know you’ll do great on your test”! Don’t let little things go unnoticed!
Love Language 3 is quality time. Remember at the beginning I said we all need more time. It is a precious commodity. We all have multiple demands on our time (work, school, family), yet we all have the exact same hours in a day. How can you make the most of your time with your child? Every night we sit and eat as a family. During this time we talk about our day, discuss plans for anything upcoming and some joke telling (our son loves making up jokes!)
Extra bedtime story, cooking dinner together, go somewhere new or special together on the weekend are all ways to express love to a child whose love language is quality time. For older children, ask them about the best part of their day, and even the hardest part, some call this “rose and thorn of the day”. Don’t forget to really listen to their responses and don’t forget to share your rose and thorn for the day too! Family game nights and movie nights are also great ways to spend time together as a family with older preschool children or preteens!
Love Language 4 is receiving gifts. Many times when the subject of love is discussed, it somehow labels the spirit of giving as being at heart of all love. In the five love languages we are challenged to give something, but for some, receiving actual gifts is the visible symbol for their love. Let’s be honest, what child doesn’t love being showered with gifts? Think back to the last “just because” gift you gave your child, was it tied to any mixed motives (bribery, payback or even materialism)? I challenge you to find a just because gift, not tied to any special occasion, and see your child’s reaction. Their reaction to the gift will tell you about their attitudes towards gifts. Being generous is an important trait to instill in our children.
Love Language 5 is acts of service. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Acts of service require thought, planning, time, effort and energy; things that we feel we don’t already have enough time in the day for! If you’re anything like me, I feel like I already do a ton for my son (because he’s 4 and not quite independent yet). This is easy though I promise!
Some examples to fill your child’s love tank if acts of service are their love language could be preparing their favorite snack in a fun way, fix a broken toy and surprise them with it, learn a sport or hobby together, or even take some time to volunteer in their classroom. Ideas for older children could be helping them with their chores, if you always rush home after school/work maybe stop to play at the park, and do homework at a picnic table for a change, it’s easy to know your child’s favorites, try to incorporate it in things you are already doing (my son loves dinosaurs, so when booking our Disney trip guess where we are eating one of our meals!)
Speaking your child’s love language can be challenging and definitely take time to figure out what language speaks most to him or her. Like I said at the beginning, we all have an innate need to be loved and we all feel love in different ways. Finding the way to show unconditional love to your child will be rewarding as well as build a stronger relationship between you and your child.
Go fill their tanks!
Katie Weishaar has been with Celebree since August 2010. She has her Bachelors Degree in Human Services and a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. She has worked in many of the classrooms at Celebree of Westminster-WMC Drive, but has been very successful as the Kindergarten Readiness teacher for the past 6 years along with her co-teacher, Natalie Keller. Katie is happily married to her college sweetheart, Jim, and they have a son, Elliott, who will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Elliott started with Celebree at 6 weeks old in our Infant program and will graduate from Kindergarten Readiness in June. Katie has been a Center Support Manager for the past few years and a huge asset to our Westminster location.