The Five Love Languages for Children, My Experiment
Day One, Again
Four years ago, I performed this experiment–try out one of the five love languages on my children for a day at a time. I was curious to notice any changes, if any, in my three boys, as a result of receiving different love languages for that day. I hoped to better pinpoint the needs of my family. I wrote the blog below at that time. I don’t think that I moved on with the other languages; at least I didn’t write about them. Let’s change that!
Recently, I have reexamined the five love languages. Boy, do we need them here! Read what I wrote four years ago, then the results as I performed the same experiment now, with two teens and a tween!
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From my blogging archives:
I’ve started reading a book on my Kindle, out of my sheer need to understand more about my kiddos and how they think. It’s the Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman.
Why is it so Hard?
I’ve been a mom for over eleven years, yet still I fumble in this area of figuring out what love language my kids understand. My husband said it should be fairly straightforward to figure out, and maybe it should, but I’m a little dense sometimes. I get caught up in day to day thinking and often don’t stop to think about how what I’m communicating really feels to those around me.
I’m not a good communicator generally. I like to write. Often I don’t think enough about other ways to communicate love. I do them, some intuitively, and some not so naturally, but I really don’t stop and think about who needs what, are they getting enough, etc, and I wonder why I get brick walls sometimes. You know–I don’t even know my own love language, and I’m not too sure about my husband’s. So much for women’s intuition.
I decided that, as I read through this book, I’d try to go ahead and put into practice each love language as I learn more about it, and see who responds most to which language. Everyone needs all the ways of showing love shown to them, but we all have a particular way that we best understand love when we see it.
The five love languages, according to this book, are 1). Physical touch. 2). Words of affirmation. 3). Quality time. 4). Gifts. 5). Acts of service. Interestingly, the only person I know for sure that I know their love language is my mom. I’m pretty sure her love language is gifts. If not, she’s pretty good at faking it!
Five Love Languages: Physical Touch
Today’s language is physical touch. This includes hugs, pats on the back, running fingers through hair, fist punches, high fives, and just any kind of loving touch. This language doesn’t come completely natural to me. Somewhat, it does, but not all the time. I think of giving hugs at bedtime, when someone gets hurt, or when I say good-bye, but I don’t always think about walking by and patting someone’s head, or just giving a little tickle.
Who needs physical touch?
I do know that one of our sons seems to have a yearning for this kind of love. He’s the one who always has a kitty in his arms to hug, loves to tickle others, and who even loves fuzzy things to feel. He has a love for snuggles! And sometimes, I hate to admit it, but I feel smothered when someone gets too much into my personal space! So, this language is one that I need to work on during the regular events of the day, and not to just save hugs and pats for predictable times.
My goal for today is to give a pat or some physical expression of love to each child. Also, I hope to include my husband, and just see what happens! It’s currently almost eleven in the morning, and I’ve already started. I gave head rubs and little thumps on the rumps as we walked along, in good fun, gave some hugs, and little back pats as we prepared for school and as we are sitting here doing our schoolwork. I’ve already received looks of surprise and smiles, and to my surprise, have begun to receive some pats on my own back–not from my middleman, as I expected more, but from my eldest, who seems less physical. It’s food for thought.
Everything is school…
Because I can’t resist the urge to make a homeschool assignment out of everything, I gave the boys a creative writing assignment on this topic. I think because I feel so dense about what they each need, I wanted to hear what they think love looks like. Each boy received a page of prompts for ideas to get going. Then I asked them to write down how they would know if Mommy or Daddy loves them. I told them they could keep it a secret if they wanted to. Wish I hadn’t said that! One boy took me seriously. That won’t help me much, but I’m hoping maybe he will change his mind!
(It’s several hours later now, and, as I hoped, he did let me read what he wrote )
What the boys wrote actually did surprise me. Which does worry me, but I’d rather learn …
A few surprises
What our middleman wrote in his paper surprised me! I thought I had him pretty much pegged, but he did not write that he feels like we love him when we give him lots of hugs! Now, I know that he loves hugs, but what he shared actually indicated that he feels love through acts of service done for him, or maybe it’s a little bit mixed in with quality time. I guess maybe I should have picked up on this. My husband has commented before that he is really helpful at doing little things without being told. Where I see life, things are a little different. I see the school end where we have to labor to keep focused, and so I don’t have as much opportunity to see this side of him. But, I have some ideas now. “How I know that you love me: when you help me cook…when you help me make my bed…” I had no idea! I so often push the boys out of the kitchen because I like a little space, but such a simple thing could increase our son’s feelings of being loved!
Ultimatum for Mom
And at the end of the paper was a command to me: DO NOT TRASH!
(Don’t worry; I plan to keep it!)
Our firstborn, the secretive one for awhile, didn’t surprise me too much, but he did a little. His definitely indicated a love for quality time spent together. “How I know when Mommy loves me is when she lets me pick a video and when she reads me a story. ”
“How I know when Daddy loves me is when he lets me help him work and when he gives me a hug and says I love you…” And he drew a picture of Daddy working along the railroad…. I found it interesting that the activities vary depending on who’s spending the time with him; he does not find it loving for me to let him help me do my work. Wonder why…
The little Little A…I think he just wanted to cover his bases. Or else he, like me, doesn’t really know what he likes BEST, but he knows that many of the suggestions sounded good! He wrote, “how I know if you love me is you would take a walk with me and play with me, give me a hug, and give me presents, and say I love you.” Pretty much covers it all, doesn’t it? You’ve got quality time, touch, gifts, words of affirmation. Not sure if there’s acts of service, but four out of five covers quite a few!
He would not give me the paper unless I promised I would keep it forever! Not a problem!
At the End of the Day…
Well, the day’s come to the end, and I feel like this has been a good opportunity for our eyes to be opened. I shared what the boys wrote with Mr. Friendly this evening, and he also was surprised at what was shared. On the surface, most of the activities that make the boys feel loved are not difficult or expensive. The difficulty lies in our own selfishness as parents, when we don’t want to step out of our routine comforts. Ouch!!
Take Home Message
As for the results if the day’s experiment? I found that today was the smoothest and most enjoyable of our days this week! Really! At the end, all was peace in the home, and I think that we all felt like we’d had success instead of defeat. We didn’t have a perfect day, but I did find that the consequences that had to be given out were taken with much less drama than when we are all running on empty love tanks.
We ALL need ALL Five Love Languages
All of the boys responded to extra loving touch. We had more smiles, and they all seemed more cuddly and positive. And silly. I can’t say that any one boy responded more or less than the others, they all responded. I expected response from Middle A, and he gave more smiles and tickles. Little Guy was more reserved, and sometimes pretended like he didn’t like the attention. But he did seem happy in general, and I don’t feel like he was unresponsive, just not so obvious about it.
The biggest surprise
But Big A did surprise me the most. He really blossomed under the attention, and seemed half shy/half happier and surprised himself. I really think that a lightbulb came on with me. Our issues were so much less today. We both were encouraged. And what did it cost? Just some extra focus on giving what the boys need to feel loved! A few hugs, plenty of pats and hair ruffling, and an attitude willing to learn!
I am definitely looking forward to the next few days as we explore another way to show love. Should be interesting!
Four Years Later…
I alluded to the fact that I’d give you an update of how the tickling and increased hugs/touch has played out currently. I will say that it has been interesting and revealing again. Here’s the scoop.
My boys are older and wiser. They seemed to be “on to me” today. My middle guy noticed when I stroked his back while instructing him how to sweep the floor. Although, when he described it, he demonstrated me gently patting his back while screaming commands at him! (Oh, My!) This is how he represented my loving gestures to him–can you believe it!? At least he noticed and appeared to like them!
I found that with the increased age, we needed more time for our experiment. I didn’t remember as often, and my boys did not respond as quickly. We had a few bumps in the road, so I took another day to try the physical touch experiment.
A personal account
Today, I was under the weather, as was my oldest son. It was more difficult to break out of the lousy feeling and reach out, but I did it when I remembered. At one point, my eldest son and I had a little skirmish, as moms and teen-aged boys sometimes do. He walked off alone, determined to put some distance between us. I let him go, then remembered the experiment, as well as my goal. I called him and invited him to walk with me. He resisted a little, but came slowly. I kind of broke out of my usual reserved manner when he came to me, and I began to act really silly, which caught him off guard. This actually helped to break the tension, and I linked arms with him, and we walked together down the driveway. He told me that I was crazy, and I told him thank you!
My teen acted like he hated walking along with me, but he did not resist. The more he acted that way, the more I just kept right on–nothing gooey or anything–just kept linking our arms.
I noticed that although nothing dramatic changed, my son seemed warmer to me, and I to him. I’ll take that!
All three of my boys seemed more apt to tackle me with tickles, because they know they can get a scream out of me! They ganged up on me several times, and scream I did! Physical touch isn’t even one of my strong love languages, but we all need all of the love languages.
I think the bottom line is that you need to keep trying! Whether you see results or not, just keep trying!
The Five Love Languages Books
You can get the Love Languages book at any bookseller, but my go-to is amazon.com. The book for children is especially good for families, but you can read the adult version and get the gist of it.
I haven’t read the teen version yet, but I think I should. I have read the Five Love Languages for Couples (Regular version) and the Five Love Languages for Children. I also have the workbook that goes along with the Five Love Languages for Children, which is helpful. Here’s the workbook, or Parent Act Book The different versions are all similar enough for you to apply the principles if you read any of the books, but I do feel that you learn more specific details that can apply to children/teens/spouses in each individual book.
I’ve found some helpful five love language quizzes online for free, which we took in our family. Here are quizzes for all ages I was surprised to learn about my own love language: words of affirmation, and secondly/equally: quality time. This could be why I enjoy spending time on Facebook–you get a lot of feedback. Equally, this is one reason why setting up brand new blogs can be scary–you feel like you are speaking to the air with no feedback.
I found that when I asked my boys to take the five love language test, they were very eager to see me take it also! We all participated during a worship time, and then discussed our results. It’s not about just getting what you want, but giving what someone else can perceive as love.