I posted several weeks ago about reading the Five Love Languages for Children.
While I don’t feel like our girls have ever gone through a “tantrum” / attention-getting phase, I’ve had a palpable sense for a while now that there’s something to the idea of a “love tank”…that we need to feel emotionally “full” so that we can better withstand the inevitable bumps during the course of the day or week or month.
At the outset of the book, the author outlines that it’s not always possible to identify a child’s primary love language until she is a bit older…maybe six or eight. Ultimately, as children are growing, they need to be addressed in all the love languages to solidify a healthy emotional base. Also, a young child may rotate among the languages that most fulfill her. It’s likely that only later a primary love language can be determined.
I have heard Marcia talk about her children’s love languages, having been able to identify them already. I wish I could say the same…but I just can’t. I remind myself of the author’s caution (so as not to feel bad that I can’t figure this out!), and frankly, I think the love languages run together so fluidly.
Thinking about myself, I have at times been really humbled at receiving gifts, for example…but I don’t think that’s speaking to my “gifts” language. It actually feels more like an “act of service”, that someone knows me so well to seek to buy such a thoughtful gift. Or, I could almost see it as “words of affirmation”, given the sentiment that accompanied the gift. And then there’s the “time” that was invested in putting the gift together. Hmmm…
As I try to observe my girls with this in mind, the best I’ve been able to do is to think about what they want when they’re upset, and how do they most often show their affection for me.
Baby A has been very affectionate lately. When she gets upset over something, she comes running for a hug. Sometimes she’ll even ask, “I want a hug! And a kiss!” She can be so incredible tender, as she loves to snuggle and be near me. I am guessing that she’s most motivated by physical touch.
Baby B interrupts what she’s doing quite often to volunteer, “I love you, Mommy.” She does it at random, and also when she’s upset. I am guessing that she’s most motivated by words of affirmation.
There’s no doubt in my mind that our girls feel loved. We maintain a positive energy and we’re actively engaged with each other and as a family. We are affectionate and giving towards each other, and it would be absolutely impossible for me to go through a day without showering my babies with hugs and kisses and coos.
Still, since I’ve been thinking specifically about the love languages approach, I’ve been a little more intentional to try to “top off” the girls’ love tanks, in particular before I divert my attention to something else. Before I extract myself to make supper, for example, I make sure to give the girls some extra hugs and get in a couple of additional “I love you’s”.
I can’t say whether it’s made a precise difference with the girls, but if nothing else, there’s no harm in hugs and kisses and words of affirmation.
I still think the “Love Languages” is an interesting and valid concept, one that I’ll continue to ponder. So...once again...to be continued!