The book The 5 love languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D. is a best seller for a reason. It details the different ways that children want to be loved, specifically splitting it up into 5 different categories. When applying these principles to babies and toddlers, it is important to note that all of these love languages need to be used. As your child grows older you will start to see which one they most closely identify with.
Love language number one: Quality time
When your child is asking for your attention, begging you to play or watch them doing something, Dr Chapman says they are craving to have their quality time love tank filled. If your child is too young to verbally communicate, watch for signs of them holding out their arms to you or banging their fists for attention.
At these times, your child wants your undivided attention. For young children sit directly in front of them, make eye contact and talk or play with them. For toddlers you can let them decide what they want to do with your undivided attention. You do not have to do this for the whole day, but for them, 20 minutes of your undivided attention feels like a whole day of play.
Love language number two: Acts of service
When your child is asking you to do things for them, they are wanting you to show your love for them. Whether this be asking for a third glass of water, a back tickle or foot rub, your child is wanting you to prove yourself. You may feel frustrated and a bit like a servant at this point.
While you don’t need to say yes to every request – you can use this time to teach them to do things for themselves. If your toddler wants you to tuck them into bed in a certain way, do it with gusto. If they keep asking for things at bed time, they may just be trying to delay sleeping. You will need to learn to differentiate your child’s love needs from their kiddie trickery.
Love language number three: Words of affirmation
When your child listens carefully to what you say and beams when you pay them a compliment, they are seeking words of affirmation in order to feel loved. Make sure that you are abundant with your words of love and encouragement – no matter what age your child is.
A great way to fill their love tank is to tell another adult about how great your child is while your child can hear. You will get double points for that and your little one will beam.
Love language number four: Gift receiving
When your child is over the moon when you give them a gift, or even a toy from their room that they have played with before, they may be needing love assurance from the act of giving. Now, Dr Chapman is not suggesting you drown your child in toys and gifts.
It can be as simple as picking a flower from the garden for them, making their favourite snack without being asked, or a colourful homemade card with a sweet message you can read to them. Depending on your child’s age, the gift possibilities are endless and do not need to be bought.
Love language number five: Touch
When your child is asking to be picked up, cuddled, wants to hold hands or constantly initiates physical contact, they are needing the sense of touch to feel your love. This is definitely one of the easier love languages to fulfill – cuddling with a child is often a parents favourite thing to do.
You can cuddle watching a movie, hold hands while walking or give a foot rub after bath time. If your toddler is asking to be carried all the time and your back is suffering, compromise with hand holding.
Toptots Early Learning SA