If your kids are anything like mine, they speak their own language. While typically that language revolves around the word poop, I’m sometimes able to translate meaningful exchanges every now and then to gather some insight into their blooming personalities and thought processes.
But the older my kids get, the more I realize how different their personalities are, and therefore how different my interactions with them have become. They don’t communicate the same way, they don’t respond to the same methods of discipline and they don’t give and receive love in the same way. It’s definitely not a one-stop shop of parenting techniques in my house. What works for one, doesn’t work at all for the other.
As a mom of military children, I think it’s even more important to figure out how best to nurture them individually. There’s a lot going on in their growing brains and hearts. They miss Daddy. They don’t want to move. They don’t know how to make new friends. I want to help them work through what they’re thinking and feeling. But if I’m not speaking their language, I’m not going to be all that helpful.
So how is a parent supposed to figure out what makes their kids tick?
That’s where the book “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell comes in. According to the authors, “every child has an emotional tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel him through the challenging days of childhood and adolescence.” Each child also has a primary language of love. And when we as parents learn how to speak that language, we’re filling that emotional tank.
I didn’t realize until after I read the book that my 9-year-old son’s preferred love language is Quality Time. He thrives on spending time together and interacting with good conversations. He notices eye contact and craves my undivided attention. He wants to know that he’s being heard, which is probably why he gives me such a hard time if I take too long to respond to his latest entry in our shared journal we swap back and forth called the “Mom and Me” notebook.
My 5-year-old daughter speaks a completely different language. My little cuddle monster’s primary love language is Physical Touch. She’s the one who crawls into my bed every morning at 0600. She’s the one who sits on my lap when she’s grumpy. She’s the one who can’t fall asleep without a massive dose of hugs and kisses. While her brother would choose a quick fist bump to a bear hug, she truly needs that physical affection.
What does all this mean? It means now that I know my children’s love languages, I can use that information to fill their emotional tanks. It doesn’t matter that neither Quality Time nor Physical Touch is my personal love language. I need to be fluent in theirs.
I still may not quite understand why poop has to be the most frequently used word in my kids’ vocabulary, but I’m starting to understand how to communicate with them in the ways they want and need. And I can’t think of a better way to show how much I love and respect them.
Click here to learn more about the love languages.
And P.S.: this theory also applies to couples.