We love this article written by the gorgeous Ema Harrison, Nutra Organics Creative Director and mum of two.
Discovering Love Languages, ‘I love you’. Three little words that shape their little world. Self esteems are built on ‘I love you’. Worry is annulled by ‘I love you’. Connection is embedded in ‘I love you’. And confidence for the day soars upon the ‘I love you’s’ whispered at bedtime. When we say I love you to our children, we are saying, you matter to me, and it underpins all that they are.
Did you know that ‘I love you’ has a language? And that spoken words are just one of five possible ways to say I love you that we resonate with? Dr Gary Chapman calls these ‘Love Languages’, and suggests we each have a primary ‘love language’ that to us says I love you, in a more meaningful way. We’re more likely to have a few love languages we connect with, but one or two may stand out more than others.
Here are the Love Languages in a nutshell.
This means that affirming language holds real value. Saying to someone ‘I love you’, or ‘you did a great job’ is not just a throw away remark, but a deep heartfelt acknowledgement that goes straight to the heart. It is said that children need to hear five affirmations for every criticism. This couldn’t ring more true for this love language and its a great benchmark for parents as we guide and shape these little humans entrusted to us.
Actions speak louder than words. This love language is very practical and self sacrificing. If this is your language, you’ll go out of your way to do something for someone else to show them what they mean to you. For a partner, it might be doing things around the house, fixing something or filling their car with petrol. For a child you might fix a broken toy, make their favourite dinner or paint their room a new colour, they’ll feel loved by how you went out of your way to please them.
For some people, receiving a gift is when they feel most loved. It’s not about being materialistic, but a gift is a symbol of their love. It means is that someone really knows you, they’ve taken time to think about you, what you like and what would make you happy. Every child loves getting gifts! But some will see the value of love behind a gift, more than just the gift itself.
This love language is about undivided attention. Someone who needs quality time as a way of feeling loved sees a connection between what you give your time and what you value most. So it’s important to block out time in your day for a child who’s love language is quality time, and give them all of your mental and emotional attention. Using expression in your language to show your interested in what they’re saying. Play a game of hide and seek or sit and tell jokes on the couch and watch their love tank fill up!
Have you ever had a friend who was a ‘hugger’? When you’d see them, even if you saw them the day before, back breaking bear hugs would ensue. For these people, love is demonstrated and felt through physical affection. Meaningful connection, reassurance and deep appreciation is all wrapped up in appropriate physical touch.
As a mum of two school aged boys, I learnt early on in the piece that the way they needed to be told ‘I love you’ was really different. For my older son, words of affirmation was the clear front runner. I noticed how he responded when I would say something affirming; his eyes would light up, he would stand taller and his self confidence would brim.
Equally, if I said something corrective, I noticed how careful I had to be in the way I crafted my sentences. Because words were so powerful to him, they would go deeper than what I expected.
With my youngest son, corrective words would be like water off a ducks back. He’d look at me like ‘yeah yeah whatever mum’ not phased at all. But, if I was too busy with my job or housework to play with him or talk about his day, or I was a bit distracted when he was talking to me, I could see it hurt his feelings and I realised, ahh he’s a quality time guy. He needs regular face time attention more than affirming words or a thoughtful gift.
We’ll naturally want to tell someone we love them in our primary love language because that’s the way we naturally want to receive love. Its important to remember our love language can be different to our partners, and different again to our children. When we discover the way they most feel loved, we can focus on giving the kind of love our children resonate with.
So how do you find your child’s love language? If they’re toddlers it can be harder to identify straight away because they can’t verbalise like adults can. Try expressing all the love languages over a week and actively pay attention to what they really respond to. As they grow it will become more apparent as to the primary love language they speak! If they’re a little older you can start by asking a few provoking questions or get them to do a drawing about a way they show love to you. Take some time to see what clicks with them. If they’re able to read competently, this online quiz can be a handy tool.
Every love language has it’s place for each child, and each love language should be expressed to some degree, what great opportunity to say ‘I love you’ in different ways. Knowing what really engages with their hearts and speaks their language can make a world of difference in seeing family relationships flourish.
From our family to yours,
The Nutra mums.
Image via @tessguinery.
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