American author and radio talk show host, Gary Demonte Chapman outlined five general ways that couples express love, in his book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.”
This book states the five love languages are –
- Words of affirmation.
- Quality time.
- Physical touch.
- Acts of service.
- Receiving gifts.
These love languages don’t seem to be limited to only romantic connections but can be applied to any relationship universally. Although displayed in diverse ways in different relationships, ultimately it works the same way.
Every person feels valued and loved in a way they like. Some might appreciate a return of gesture in some material form or favour while for others a simple thank-you note will suffice. As we spent time with people, we will master this art of loving and pleasing others. But in this whole process, we sometimes forget to love ourselves. Don’t we?
We teach our kids good behaviour, and discipline, as well as stress moral values from time to time. But lessons on self-love are rare and limited.
Parents are constantly worried about their child’s behaviour in public because they feel that the child’s social conduct is a reflection of their parenting. Thus, increasing the stress on superficial presentation to come across as the finest to others – the best version whom everyone would love. But shouldn’t we all learn to love ourselves first? As the saying goes – you cannot pour from an empty cup. Similarly, if you don’t love yourself truly and don’t appreciate yourself, how are you supposed to do it to others.
So, here are the five love languages that you can teach your child to start with self-love. Also, identify what is their love language and use it to strengthen your bond with them.
- Words of affirmation. –Tell your child to look into the mirror and speak these to themselves. – “I am successful.”, “I am confident.” “I am powerful.” “I am strong.” “I am getting better and better every day.”, “All I need is within me right now.” “I wake up motivated.” “I am an unstoppable force of nature.”
This will help them to appreciate themselves. Repeating positive self-affirmations is the language you use to communicate with your mind. The boost of self-confidence that comes after, is like a refuel you need just when you are about to run out of your own batteries.
You may use positive and motivating words for your child to encourage them in your daily interactions as well. Listen actively when you do so. Also, remember to praise their efforts whenever it needs recognition.
- Quality time. – Spending quality time with yourself isn’t an easy task. The brain is always working on some mental notes, to-dos, past incidents, etc. The same goes for your child’s mind.
To help relax, ask your child to practice meditation. If your child is fidgety and it is hard for them to sit and relax in a place, teach methods like self-talk or journalling. Get a diary/planner with preset questions like – “how was the day?”, “How is the current mood?”, “what was good during the day?”, “what made you feel confident?” Make it a habit to write in this diary regularly. This will help them to self-reflect as well as to strategize improvement plans.
Having one-to-one uninterrupted conversations with your child will give them the quality time they need from their parents. You can also have special moments with them like long walks. Just be aware to stay distraction-free when you are spending quality time with them. Also do not go for very long without any one-to-ones with them.
- Physical touch. – Hugging someone for twenty seconds releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, also known as the “feel good” hormone. Oxytocin helps boost the immune system, improve mood and reduce stress. Ask your child to hug their favourite person for twenty seconds, be it mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, their pet, their best friends or their favourite soft toy.
You can also make it a daily practice to have a cuddle time with your child before bed or if your child is older then a twenty seconds hug ritual before bed.
Important note – Physical touch is a critical topic to be discussed. Your child should be made aware of good touch and bad touch so that they do not misunderstand and accept bad touch as a love language. Have this talk during your one-to-one with the child.
- Acts of service. – It feels good when you do something good for others. If your child is older, encourage them to volunteer for social service activities. It helps create a feeling of relatedness in the community as well as gives a purpose and sense of fulfilment. For the younger ones, letting them help with household chores is an option.
As a parent, if you see your child loaded and overwhelmed with tasks, offer to help them. Let them know you are available not just emotionally but also ready to lend help to lighten their burden. Don’t stuff them with tasks and ignore them.
- Receiving gifts. – Well, this is a debatable topic but gifts need not be materialistic all the time. Making yourself a priority is the biggest gift one can give themselves. Making sacrifices and compromises is a part and parcel of life but let your child know that they should always put their needs first. Unless they are considerate about their own needs, one cannot expect them to be understanding of others’ expectations. Unmet needs lead to a dissatisfied life which will hamper their daily social life.
Having said that, when they show mindfulness and give you the gift of their time and efforts, remember to express gratitude. Also, do not forget special occasions like birthdays or to celebrate small achievements.