We know that a child’s deepest need, above all else, is to feel loved. Kids who feel loved grow up with fewer mental health challenges and are more emotionally stable. Kids who feel valued are more likely to find an emotionally healthy relationship.

We often assume that our unconditional love is enough for our kids. We tell them we love them; we hug and kiss and say I love you daily. But what if we express love isn’t the same way they receive love? What if all the I love you’s don’t have the effect we think they do? Parents can often fall short of loving when we’re not doing it right for each kid.

Parents tend to show love to their kids in the ways they wish to receive love themselves. The same goes for siblings; each child will receive love differently, and what makes one child feel loved may not help another feel loved.

Parents need to be intentional about how they love their kids. Finding our kids’ love language can be a game changer in our relationships with them. Once parents have figured out their love language, it can change the temperament of their kids, make discipline easier, and make the household a little calmer.

Finding a love language benefits any relationship, but finding our kids’ love language can be tricky. It’s often not something you can figure out immediately, and you may need to play the long game. But it will pay off; once we’ve found their love language, we can better meet their needs emotionally.

The 5 Love Languages of Children is a book written by Dr. Gary Chapman. It’s gained immense popularity, changed households, and helped parents improve their relationships. Dr. Chapman describes the 5 love languages:

  •  Words of Affirmation
  •  Quality Time
  •  Physical Touch
  •  Gift Receiving
  •  Acts of Service

We speak all of these love languages, but some are more important to us than others. We all have a primary love language, which we want to figure out with our kids. This information can help guide us to show love and find consequences and discipline that will work best for each kid, have a stronger, more understanding relationship, and better understand their behavior patterns.

To love your child the way they need to receive love, you must find their love language. So here are some tips for learning more and figuring it out. And, of course, read the book!

Words of Affirmation:

finding your childs love language; words of affirmation

Do you see their face light up when you say how proud you are? Do they often tell you they love you? If they ask what you think of something they’ve done or they enjoy hearing your thoughts, their primary love language is likely words of affirmation.

What it looks like:

This language is praise, encouragement, and words of affection to show love.

  •  I love you  
  •  Great job on your test today 
  •  You’re a great sister to your siblings 
  •  You’ve been so helpful today 
  •  You’re important to me 
  •  I love how your mind works 
  •  You inspire me

These words can be incredibly meaningful for kids who love language is words of affirmation. Even little notes in their lunchbox can be significant for them.

Important things to note: 

Affirm our kids for the effort rather than for perfection.

Even if this is their love language, we must be aware not to praise only what they do perfectly but the effort they put into it. We can use this to motivate and get the best out of them, but in a way that praises what they’ve done – (even if it’s not as good as you were hoping for). Our words mean so much to our kids, even more so when their love language is words of affirmation.

Be aware of…

Words are powerful, especially if this is your love language.

Negative words given to a child whose love language is words of affirmation can hurt. They can have difficulty recovering from the words that hurt them so much. So be careful when you speak to them, and don’t be afraid to apologize.

It’s probably NOT their love language if…

Everyone loves compliments, but some kids don’t need them to feel loved, happy, or confident. Sometimes you can praise a kid, and they’ll feel embarrassed or brush it off. If this is the case, it’s likely NOT their love language.

Quality Time:

If your child is often asking for some alone time with you, if they’re calling you to come to see what they’re doing or play a game with you – they likely have quality time as their primary love language.

What it looks like:

Undivided attention! The most important thing these kids want is our attention. The amount of time doesn’t need to be significant, but this time needs to be quality.

-Quality time, as much as you can manage.

-Activities together; sports events, making crafts, reading together

Important things to note…

We live in a multi-tasking world; we don’t have enough hours to get everything done. So, we must find creative ways to find this quality time for our kids without distractions. For older kids, perhaps the morning commute to school or sports is a time to talk (no phones, radio, just chatting). For younger kids, possibly take 5 minutes each morning to eat breakfast together or a few minutes after school to play a game of their choice.

Be aware of…

We’re so used to multi-tasking these days, and we mustn’t do this with kids whose love language is quality time. So if they’ve asked you for time, perhaps to come and play, and you’ve brushed them off a few times, it can be exceedingly hurtful to a child whose love language is quality time.

The time must be undivided. Don’t have your phone; looking at your phone or taking a call can make a quality time child believe that they’re not as important as your phone is.

Physical Touch:

Kids with physical touch as their primary love language will reciprocate the physical touch. For example, they often hold hands, ask for back rubs, or snuggle on the couch.

What it looks like:

Everything from hugs, kisses, cuddles, and hand-holding to back scratches, roughhousing and tickles. If you find your child has no issues or embarrassment about loving in public, they like to hug friends and hold your hand; then it’s likely that physical touch is their love language.

Important things to note…

From the very first moment, we show our love to our new babies through physical touch. This is why Kangaroo care is so critical. Hugs, cuddles, kisses, this is how we express love. And the sloppy wet baby kisses we get back are amazing. Some kids grow out of being overly affectionate, and others can’t get enough snuggles.

Also, many parents pull away physically as their kids age, especially if it isn’t your love language; it may feel unnatural. So, it’s essential to do your best to continuously show affection to our kids whose love language is physical touch. You need to be intentional about the touch – even if it’s uncomfortable or unnatural. Especially as your kids get older, you can make it a back scratch or a hand on the shoulder.

Be aware of…

Some kids grow out of the physical touch, especially special needs kids, it can make them uncomfortable.

Also, if you have daughters whose love language is physical touch, it’s essential to continue to hug and hold them, primarily through puberty. Pulling back from your daughters increases their feeling of shame about their bodies.

 Gift Receiving:

child receiving flower from parent

Kids with gift receiving as their love language appreciate even the smallest gifts. They take good care of things people have given, often keeping them in a special spot. If this sounds like your child, gift receiving may be their primary love language.

What it looks like…

  •  Picking them up a small item that you think they’d like
  •  breakfast in bed, a picnic or outing
  •  buying a toy together
  • Surprising them with adorable labels 😉
  •  Finding a rock or shell in their favorite shape or color

Important things to note:

Let’s be upfront with this. Having gift receiving as your love language does not make anyone materialistic. It’s more about tokens of love, a physical item that can become a keepsake.

Be aware of…

If this is their love language, and you don’t give a birthday gift, they’ll take that to heart. It doesn’t need to be expensive; it needs to be a gesture as long as you thought of them when you saw it – they’ll feel loved.

 Acts of Service:

finding your childs love language: acts of service

This one can be tricky to figure out because, as parents, it’s our job to provide acts of service for our kids. But a few tell-tale signs can help you figure out if they ask you to do something for them that they can do themselves; they appreciate thoughtful gestures. It could be something like fluffing their pillow or putting their socks on. They can do it themselves, but they appreciate the gesture when you do it.

What it looks like… 

  •  Doing chores together
  • Doing your best to use their favorite cup when you can.
  • Working together on tasks around the house
  • Helping them clean their room.
  • Buttoning their jacket when they ask, even if they can do it themselves.

Important things to note… 

 An easy way to recall the importance of acts of service is by reminding yourself that actions speak louder than words to your child.

Be aware of…

Don’t do everything for them; you don’t want this to turn into them not learning to do their tasks. Instead, treat it as an opportunity to teach them life skills by doing them together.

Finding your child’s love language can make life easier for everyone; loved kids are happy kids. Even if you can’t figure it out – if you show love in any of these ways, your kids are lucky, and you will have a loving household. Inevitably, we will need to discipline our kids, motivate them to make smart choices, and provide consequences when required. Knowing your child’s love language can help with this. Wrap your discipline in their love language. When they feel loved, they’ll take the consequence better and feel the discipline is fairer.

You’re never too late to start figuring out or acting upon their love language and making changes. Maybe you can’t quite figure it out – try showing them the different types of love and see the reactions you get. If your kids are older, you can have them take the quiz themselves to find their love language.

Also, Name Labels should be their own love language, right!?


Mabel's Labels is the leading provider of personalized labels for the stuff kids tend to lose.

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