I have read several of Gary Chapman’s books about the five love languages. I think it is so important to know what makes your kids/husband feel loved so you can speak their language. Here is an experiment for you to try whether you are a grandparent, parent, or nanny.
Use this experiment individually with all the kids in your family to see which love language they respond to the most. Focus on one love language for a few days before moving on to the next. I encourage you to jot down notes each day because you are going to compare how they respond to each one in order to figure out their most prominent love language. If you have more than one child, it is even more important to write down notes during each ‘test’. You think you’ll remember but if you are like me, you won’t. Take notes on their behavior toward you also because it might give you additional insight to how they perceive love to be ‘spoken’. Do they ‘do’ things for you? Do they hug you frequently? These are all clues to their love language.
Quality time – You need to do several ‘tests’ to get a true gage on each ‘language’. Just because they get excited to do something they love to do, wouldn’t mean that is their love language necessarily. What is quality time? Mr. Chapman writes in his book that it simply means giving a child undivided attention. If you have a preschool child, this could be playing catch, going to the beach, sitting on the floor playing dinosaurs, join him/her in her playtime, take a walk together. Make a plan to not have interuptions with other kids; maybe when the little sister is napping or older siblings are in school. If you have an older child, shoot hoops at a nearby park together, play a board game, get in the pool with her/him. Make a note how they respond. Did this time seem super meaningful to them or did they seem like you were in their space? Don’t go by this one test alone because moods etc will affect their response. Do something else tomorrow and the next day after that.
Receiving gifts – The author of the Five Love Languages books says parents/grandparents tend to be fluent in this language. But is this one of your child’s main love languages? You might want to spread this test out for a few weeks and buy one gift a week for three weeks and record reaction. Are they excited about the gift? Again, you need to do more than one test because reactions will vary depending on the gift and the mood. Do they cherish it? Are they grateful? You do not need to have a lot of money to provide gifts for your children. If you have a teenage girl you could put flowers in her room or buy her a pampering product.
Acts Of Service – Pay careful attention to how your child responds when you make a special meal for them, drive them someplace, help them clean their room, or even do a chore that is usually their job. Are they appreciative? Did they respond at all?
Physical touch– As kids get older we pull back on touching them as much. Teenagers sometimes pull away in front of friends. That is not the time to test this language on them! Observe how they are with friends. Do they grab their friends? Hug? Wrestle? These are indicators this is their love language. Give random hugs, pats, back rubs etc to test this language
Words Of Affirmation – This is another one we seem to do in abundance when they are little and taper off when they get older. Gary Chapman says our words of affirmation turn into words of condemnation. We condemn the failures and forget to to commend successes. This is especially hurtful if your child’s primary love language is words of affirmation. Compliment them, say ‘I love you’, put a note in their lunch saying something nice about them, thank them when they do the right thing, tell them they did a good job, make a ‘toast’ at dinner to a good grade. You can speak the words or write them down.
After you have learned what each child’s love language is, speak it often so they will feel loved, it’s never to late to start!
Retest every few years since their language might change in different phases of their life.