Her Love Languages
A few months ago, a friend had mentioned the Love Languages course to me. She had given me a brief overview about what it was all about, and I have been dying to attend a course on it ever since. Last week I finally managed to get to one, and as a Mama and a teacher, it was so worth it!
Based on the ideas of Gary Chapman, I discovered that each person experiences love in five different ways: physical touch, acts of service, quality time, gift giving and words of affirmation. Each person has a predominant love language, the one that resonates most with them and makes them feel most loved. Similarly, each person gives out love with one love language being their most dominant. And each person may have different dominant love languages for different people in their lives. Once you have ascertained which love language someone needs the most, you can make sure to cater towards it.
This whole concept has just been so eye-opening for me. As the lecturer spoke, I wrote notes on Bella’s behaviour, specifically toward me and her Dad. It became so abundantly clear which love languages my girl needs the most, and which she gives out to those she loves. Over the last few days, I’ve been paying close attention to her, watching how she hands out love like it’s her job, and also watching to see when she feels the most loved and appreciated. And it has changed the way I interact with her, as well as how I deal with those typical ‘toddler moments’.
Bella’s dominant love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation. Bella has been a ‘cuddler’ since the day she was born. I remember her tiny little face always nuzzling into my neck as a newborn, and to this day, when she crawls into bed with me, she hugs me so tightly, it amazes me how she is still able to sleep. Bella’s behaviour seems to demand cuddles, tickles, play fighting, wrestling, hugs and holding hands, anything where she can be in physical contact with us. When we watch TV, she will lean on me or hold my hand, when I read her a bedtime story I have to hold her hand, when I sing to her at night, I have to pick her up while I do so, and when she wakes up in the morning, she has to hug my face for a good few minutes and then be carried around for a while, until she has sufficiently filled her ‘love tank’ and feels ready to face the day.
Bella has also always been very ‘wordy’. She was moved up a class in crèche due to the fact that she spoke like the children a year older than her, and they felt she was being held back by her age group. Bella has been able to express her feelings for a long time now and is constantly chatting, telling us long stories or giving her opinion on something. The latest addition to her evening routine is secret telling. Every evening she asks if she can tell me a secret. She whispers into my ear with things like ‘your face is beautiful, and your eyes are beautiful, and your hair is beautiful, and your smile is beautiful’ (last night I even got ‘your bra is beautiful’). Once she is done, she looks into my eyes, gives me the biggest hug, and asks me to tell her a secret. I usually tell her the same type of secret every night: that she is beautiful and kind and strong and smart and my favourite, to which she looks up, says ‘thank you Mommy’ and starts to tell me another secret, where she lists more attributes that she finds beautiful. I cannot begin to explain how special this secret telling is, it melts me every time!
Yes Bella does all the other love languages too, like giving me little gifts, wanting to spend quality time with me and offering to help me around the house, but physical touch and words of affirmation visibly fill her little soul with happiness. I see now that she needs these things specifically, so as to feel whole and loved-up. So I have tried to incorporate them even more into our lives. I’ve always been super affectionate with her and have always bombarded her with ‘I love you’s etc, but the knowledge that my child actually needs these actions the most has just changed the focus I give to them. When she is upset or has just been in trouble for something, I offer her a hug and only let go when she is ready to do so. I have also been showering her (more than usual) with words of encouragement, praise for good behaviour, and reminding her constantly how much I love and appreciate her. Since becoming aware of this, I have noticed that she has been doing the same. She spontaneously gives me a compliment or a little cuddle, she thanks me all the time (even when I’ve done nothing) and she tells me she loves me all day long.
Since learning about the Love Languages and seeing which ones resonated most with my daughter, it has changed so many of our interactions. I can see the difference just the awareness and knowledge about her specific needs has made on our relationship and her self confidence in general. The greatest thing about it is that you can decipher anyone’s dominant love language and make sure to use it to make them feel loved and appreciated, whether it’s your partner, friends, colleagues or family. This has been great in my classroom especially. If a child is constantly asking for my opinion, they need more of my words of encouragement. If a child is acting up by pushing others, they may just need a hug to feel that physical connection. If a child keeps giving me letters or presents, they may need a small gift from me, even just a friendly note, to remind them that I care about them.
Taking a moment to watch someone, especially our own children, and see how they choose to show love, gives us an insight into what it is that they need most from us as parents to fill their ‘love tanks’ so they may go into each day feeling happy and confident. Research the Love Languages, or try to attend a course on it (e-mail me for contact details if you’re interested). For me, it is an invaluable tool that all of us parents need in the navigation of the journey of raising our little ones.