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Hi, I’m Gina.
You may have heard of the 5 love languages when it comes to strengthening your relationship with your partner, but did you know you can use these strategies when it comes to your children too? By learning to speak your kid’s love language, you can show you care in a way that resonates with them.
Even well-meaning parents may find their displays of affection sometimes miss the mark when it comes to their kids. Love languages can help explain why this might be.
Though all love shown to your children is beneficial, some acts may have more impact than others. You probably know when it happens—your child’s whole face lights up. Those moments are priceless.
Let’s dive in to find out how you can learn your kid’s love language. You’ll also learn some tips for showing a child love in each type of love language. Get ready to be a superstar when it comes to showing affection for your child.
What Is a Kid Love Language?
Love languages are different ways of expressing love. You can think of them as communication styles for affection.
The 5 love languages came from experiences in marriage counseling but have now been applied to any type of close relationship. Each person typically has a primary love language—a way they prefer to receive love. They might still relate to the other types but to a lesser degree than their primary love language.
By learning about your kid’s love language, you can better meet their needs for affection.
Here are some fantastic books about love languages:
How Do You Find Out Your Kid’s Love Language?
The best way to figure out your kid’s love language is through observation and trial and error. Have you ever done something you thought your child would love, but it fell flat? Maybe a gift was brushed aside or a hug shrugged off. That’s likely because it wasn’t their primary love language.
See if any of the love language descriptions below sounds like it fits your child best. If you’re still not certain, you’ll have to do a little detective work until it becomes clearer. The homework will be worth the effort.
Kid Love Languages With Examples of Affection
Here are each of the five love languages for kids, along with examples of how to show love for each language.
A kid who has the primary love language of touch may always be hanging off you. They give hugs freely and love to snuggle. I think a lot of sensory-seeking kids fall into this category.
Physical touch is incredibly important for these kids. They feel comfort and security from being held or having skin-to-skin contact. It’s in their biology.
Try these type of activities for kids whose primary love language is touch as a way to show your affection:
A big hug can do wonders for a child who appreciates touch. They may need one especially during times of high emotion or uncertainty. Let your child guide the length and pressure.
Cuddling with a parent can feel like an extra special treat for these kids. See if they want to sit in your lap or share a blanket. Wrap your arms around them and relax together. For older kids, sitting next to you shoulder-to-shoulder may work.
Tickling can be so much fun. You can also play this game with kisses everywhere. Just be sure to follow the child’s requests when they’re ready to stop (read more about body autonomy for children).
There are many other ways to show love through touch, such as hand holding, a back massage, brushing or braiding hair, playing pat-a-cake, a high five, a special handshake, and more. Mix things up to see what your child likes best.
2. Acts of Service
A child whose love language is acts of service may make small requests of you throughout the day, even if they could probably do some of the things themselves. They may want you to carry them, cut up their apple, tie their shoes, carry their backpack to the bus stop, or make them a sandwich.
While it’s fine to show your love through such small acts, make sure you are not indulging the child so much that they don’t learn a sense of personal responsibility. It’s a balancing act. For example, don’t do their school project for them, but maybe you could drive them to the store so they could get some colored paper for it.
Some ways to show a child love and affection through their love language of acts of service include:
Make a Special Food
My son loves when I make him a grilled cheese the way only mom can make it. Even though he’s old enough to learn on his own, there’s something about a special food made by mom.
Find out your child’s favorite foods and surprise them from time to time with a special homemade treat. You can also teach them how to make it so they’ll have the ability to be self-reliant in the future.
Help With a Chore
Help your child recognize all the helpful acts you’re probably already doing. For example, you could point out that you washed and folded all their clothes, but still have the child put the clean clothes away. If the child has a chore of raking leaves, you could come and help them do the bagging.
If your child has completed a big project, you could offer to help with some finishing touches like the printing or gluing. You could iron the new merit badges on your child’s scouting uniform.
Give Them a Ride
Mostly, this means being your child’s chauffer. You can get them places they can’t get to by themselves. For older kids, maybe they want to be dropped off someplace to hang out with their friends. For younger kids, it may mean taking them to a play date or the arcade.
Aside from the acts mentioned, there are endless opportunities to show love through small acts of service every day. Don’t give in to every request or make yourself the child’s servant, but it’s OK to indulge them from time to time, especially if they show their gratitude.
3. Words of Affirmation
The child who responds well to words of affirmation will be gleaming when you offer words of praise. They might show their love in this way as well, telling you “you’re the best mom ever” or “I love you to the moon and back.”
These kids are especially hurt when someone uses mean words with them.
In addition to showering them with regular statements of “I love you,” try the following methods to reach straight to their heart, thereby showing affection in their love language:
Leave Kind Notes
I was always a little jealous of those kids who got notes from their parents in their lunch box. Surprise your child with a special note just for them. For example, I always make sure to leave a note in my child’s desk on school open house night.
You can also tape kind notes on their bedroom door leading up to their birthday or Valentine’s day, recognizing character traits you admire in them.
Recognize Their Hard Work
Recognizing a child’s efforts can help instill a growth mindset that encourages them to apply themselves in order to achieve. Rather than saying, “you’re so smart,” you’d say something like, “I really liked how you kept trying on your homework even when it was difficult.”
Just make sure to never make your love conditional, such as “I love you when…”
Brag About Them
Let your child overhear you telling someone, like your partner or even the dog, about something great they did. Like, “Samantha was so kind at the park today. She let her friend go first on the swings. I was so impressed!” Your child will be beaming with pride.
4. Quality Time
The child who responds best to quality time is the one who’s always asking you to play with them or even to watch them while they play a game.
They relish being in the same room with you and having you listen to them. They could talk to you for what seems like hours, and overall they crave your attention.
While it may feel challenging to give these kids all the quality time it seems like they need, there are ways to show affection in their love language and fit moments of connection into your schedule:
Child-Directed One-on-One Time
Especially in busy households, if you can commit to giving your child 20 or 30 minutes of time just for them, it can do wonders. Find a place without distraction and let your child choose the activity they want to do.
You will observe them and can comment positively on what they’re doing, but let them take the lead, never directing their actions. Engage in the play if they initiate the engagement. Otherwise, continue to be an observer. Make sure they have your undivided attention, meaning you’re not on your phone.
The idea is to be there for your child while being respectful of their special time.
A Special Outing
From time to time, it can be a real treat for these kids to have a special outing with a parent. You could take them to the movies, miniature golf, ice skating, or any number of places that your child might enjoy.
Have fun together just the two of you, and your child will make lasting memories of this special time.
Before bed is a great time to give kids some quality time. Snuggle up close and let your child talk about their day. My son and I used to ask each other, “What was your favorite part of today?” We each took turns saying something good that happened.
Spend a few minutes listening and talking with your child before the lights go out. I bet it will become a ritual they come to adore.
You might think that all kids would fall into this category, but that’s not always the case. Still, some kids are especially swayed by gifts from loved ones. These are the children that are over the moon when you bring home a small trinket from the store.
They might even seem like mini-hoarders, keeping things that seem inconsequential to you. They likely remember each person and situation where an item came from. Children who adore gifts will also bestow them frequently on their loved ones, gifting works of art or crafts they’ve made.
Of course, you want to be careful with gifts so as not to create a spoiled child. They also might need to do some decluttering of their room from time to time.
Some practical ideas for showing your affection with this kid love lanugage include:
Homemade or Free Gift
Make something yourself that you can give to your child. It can be a small card or picture you colored. You could make a small craft out of clothespins and buttons—whatever you have lying around plus some hot glue. It’s the effort that counts.
Special finds from nature are also a treat. A giant leaf, a tiny pinecone, or a pretty flower (aka weed) plucked from the yard.
A small unexpected gift on occasion can bring a big smile. It could be a favorite baked good or ice cream. “Blind bags” or Lego minifigures are favorites in our house.
Other ideas include lip balm, hair accessories, stickers, puzzle books, or small paintable figures from the craft store.
You may like this long list of non-candy small gifts for children!
Gifts of a personal nature can be more impactful than the most expensive gifts. When you know your child’s favorite animal, color, or cartoon character, you can get something that they’ll relate to.
It can even be from a secondhand shop; sometimes those items are even more special.
Summary: Show Affection by Speaking Your Kid’s Love Language
Did you have an “aha” moment while reading this and recognize one of the love languages that applies most to your child? If not, you’ll now be more attuned to spotting which acts make them light up in the future.
Your child’s love language is as unique as your child, and you’ll be the best one to discover what form of love or what specific acts ring truest with them. Their love language may shift as they grow, or remain the same with slightly different needs.
If you make an effort toshow affection by speaking your kid’s love language, chances are that those are some of the moments they’ll remember when they’re older. And modeling kindness yourself is one of the best ways to raise a kind kid.
Check out this list of 11 activities to teach kids kindness.
Children who are well loved grow into well-adjusted, confident adults, so putting in effort to learn their love language now could benefit them for a lifetime.
About the Author of Ways to Show Affection in Your Kids’ Love Language
Gina Morris is a mom of four who writes on the Steps to Self blog. Her passion is helping moms attend to themselves and live their best life. Gina’s interests include mindfulness, green living, minimalism, and positive parenting. Find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
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