For this edition of our "Diary", I want to continue with sharing my coaching tips and strategies to build on you becoming the best parent you can be.
Last month I set a challenge to create a Parenting/Family Vision Board, this month I discuss how to take the way you communicate love in your family to the next level – start communicating in their love language.
We don’t need Valentine's Day to remind us of our love for our children.
As human beings, our deepest need is to feel truly loved. In my coaching practise I believe that everything depends of the relationship between the parent and child, nothing works well if the relationship isn’t right!
Communication is a powerful tool in any relationship and with social media changing the way we communicate, and children more commonly using “text speak”, I’m sure you will agree that it can become harder and harder to fully understand each other.
In all the ways that we communicate, I feel the most important is the way in which we communicate love.
When I came across Gary Chapman and read his work on The 5 Love Languages, it was like the missing piece of the jigsaw clicked into place. – The concept is a powerful one, and has dramatically changed for the better, my relationship with my partner, my children and it has also changed the family relationships of my clients whom I have shared this with during parent or family coaching sessions.
Let me explain more about Gary Chapmans work.
All of us have a way in which we feel and communicate love and appreciation to others. For children it’s the way they understand a parent's love best. This is what Gary Chapman calls our Love Language and it isn’t necessarily the case that our own love language will be the same as our partner’s or our child’s.
The five love languages are:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Before we start to unpick this further, I just want to say that if your child is under 5 years old, don’t expect to figure out his preferred love language just yet. Up to this age our children need us to use all 5 love languages equally to meet their need for love fully and to fill up their emotional “tank”.
Let’s have a look at each of the 5 love languages and whilst we look at them together, I would ask that you reflect on your own love language (how you express your love to others) and what the rest of your family’s love language might be.
Physical touch is the easiest language to use unconditionally. As parents we don’t need a special occasion, or excuse to make physical contact – however, this love language isn’t confined to a hug or kiss, but includes any kind of contact;
a touch on the arm
ruffle of the hair
physical touch through playing games
bear hugs, a family huddle
rough and tumble
any game or sport that requires physical touch
snuggling up to watch a favourite DVD
Some children know that they are loved and appreciated in expressions that affirm them.
Words of affirmation are more than the words of praise and encouragement or the words “I love you”. Children with this love language really need their parents to affirm them to feel genuinely loved.
The love language of Words include;
positive comments that become part of a child’s self-perception,
the volume of a parent’s voice, and the tone in which it’s given.
post-it notes in lunch boxes or on mirrors or under pillows in their bedrooms,
for older children text messages telling them how much they mean to you
special pet names only used by parent to child
The 3rd language is quality time, what really makes these children feel loved is their parents undivided attention. Remember when a child’s love tank is running low or empty they will go to any lengths to get it filled. Remember negative attention is better than no attention!
Quality time conveys the message “you are important, I like being with you” This child feels truly loved because he has his parent all to himself.
Remember, the important thing here is the focused quality time spent with the child, not the event itself or the duration, so it doesn’t require that you go somewhere special.
Ideas in meeting this love language include;
ensuring you make eye contact with your child when they tell you something important
schedule in specific dates in your diary for 1-1 time with your child individually
spend a few extra minutes putting your child to bed at night
work on school projects together
reading and playing games
When you spend time with your children you are creating memories that last a lifetime and keep their emotional tanks topped up.
If you ask a child how she knows that her parents love her/him and they show you and point out all the gifts that they have received from their parents then their love language is gifts.
The giving and receiving of gifts can be a powerful expression of love, but remember a true gift is not a payment for good behaviour, it is an expression of love and is given freely – and isn’t conditional.
Children with this love language will respond differently to other children when they receive a gift. They will love the present to be wrapped beautifully or given in a unique and creative way. They will look at the bow and the paper and will be really careful as they open it – it will seem a big deal to them –
To these children, gifts are more than material objects, they are tangible expressions of love.
Some ideas to meet the love language of gifts include;
personalised gifts with the child’s name on
creating a secret place where they can keep their small treasures
create a treasure hunt for a gift that includes a map and clues to the main surprise
If away on a business trip mail a small package to your child with their name on it.
The final language is Acts of service
Acts of Service that are genuine expressions of love will communicate on an emotional level to most children. However if this is their love language it speaks more deeply of your love for them.
This does not mean that you should jump to your child’s every request, but we need to be sensitive to those requests and recognise that they fill your child’s love tank.
These children will say “I know mummy loves me because when I’m sick she makes my favourite drink”, or
“I know dad loves me because he helps with my homework even though he is tired from working all day”. To them serving is loving.
Meeting the Acts of service language includes;
making a special breakfast for them
offering to help them clean their room or organise their clothes or toy box
making a special surprise breakfast
setting up their favourite game while they are taking a nap or are at school
So now you have heard about all the love languages you might instantly recognise your own love language or that of your partner and child.
So a question: Are you communicating in the same love language?
If not, what can you do, that you are not currently doing, that will enable you to start communicating in your child’s love language? You might also want to play the love languages mystery game by completing the free on-line love languages profile on www.5lovelanguages.com
This valentine’s day – take the way you communicate love in your family to the next level – start communicating in their love language.
I’d love to hear how you get on and what you notice – contact me via