Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
6 minute read
20 Sep 2019
8:30 am

Love languages and parenting: What is your child’s love language?

Karabo Mokoena

We can always make time for what is important to us.

I am a big Love Languages nerd. Not only because the concept has made me a better partner in my relationship, but also because I have seen what a powerful tool it can be in other relationships. Self-knowledge and knowing others is key. It is important because it harnesses how we communicate and relate to each other.

My relationship was very difficult at some point because we both felt like we were not getting what we needed from the other person. This created room for conflict. We could not navigate around this because we did not understand what it is we needed from the other person until we knew our love languages.

The reality of our very fabric as human beings is that no one person is the same. Even people who are born on the same day, in the same year, are very different. So how we relate, and particularly communicate with each other also cannot be the same. Communication is the key to every relationship.

Even relationships with our children.

The key to knowing your child’s love language is rooted in ensuring that you speak and relate to them in a meaningful way. We want, as parents, to talk to our children in a manner (language) that they can understand and relate to.

So what are these five love languages?

Words of affirmation

Yes, ladies and gentleman, words matter. And I am aware that the narrative in relationships is that what you do matters more than what you say. But for some people, what you say matters more.

I am one such person.

So if your child’s love language is words of affirmation, then tell them. Tell them how proud you are of them for picking up the clothes from the floor. Tell them how happy you were when they led a role in the school play.

There is, therefore, a direct correlation between the child’s behavior and verbal affirmations.

If he/she gets verbally congratulated for doing well at school, he/she will continue excelling because he associates academic excellence with the feelings of love.

Be careful not to over affirm. Imagine if you heard ‘well done, I am proud of you’ 100 times a day. It takes the sincerity of it away, and children are smarter than we think.

As much as positive words build, so can negative words destroy. So, watch your words, and tone when you are disciplining them.

The worst thing you could do this child is to give them the silent treatment. More often than not, parents punish their kids by not addressing them when they have done something wrong. Talk to this child. They need it.

How do I know if this is my child’s love language?

Does your child’s face light up when you say something sweet to them?

Acts of service

This is the “actions matter’ kid. Don’t tell me you support my dreams of being a soccer player, but not pitch up to my soccer game. You can also show your love by offering assistance to do certain tasks like homework or rehearsal before they ask for it.

Telling this kid that you will do something later for them can be quite detrimental. You might just really hurt their feelings, and they will subsequently feel like you do not love them.

I know, life can be very busy, and we do not always have the capacity or time to drop what we are doing and help our children with something.

But remember: We can always make time for what is important to us. Always.

Receiving gifts

That kid that always asks you what you brought from them on your way home from the office is not materialistic and is not trying to suck you dry, they just feel very loved when they receive nice things.

The star on the forehead after your little girl has done something good works wonders. They don’t just need a ‘well done’. They associate verbal messaging with tangible things.

How do you know that this is your child’s love language?

Your child holds on to the gift she/he receives from people. Kids typically like getting gifts. Kids also get bored very easily. So they are excited now, and they’ve moved on from that item two minutes later. Your gift receiving child does not move on that easily.

Remember, these gifts don’t always have to be store items that you purchase. You can give them a cute flower that you picked up on the side of the road. This gift reminds them that you are thinking of them even when they are out of sight.

See? It’s the sentiment that matters.

Quality time

This kiddo would do anything for a day out just with mommy or with daddy, or both. This little one just wants some attention. QT is at the top of their list.

How do I know if this is my child’s love language?

Does your little one want you to read three or four books as part of the nighttime routine? Chances are, they aren’t obsessed about reading, they are just obsessed about spending time with you. A child that is always in your face when yours is buried on the TV or your cellphone just yearns for your attention.

When spending time with your child, remove any distraction and be fully present. They are aware of your non-verbal cues. If you keep looking at the time or keep peeping at the TV, then you are signaling to them that you would rather be doing something else. Remember, little humans are smart.

And also, ‘I just don’t have the time’ is not a real thing.

Physical touch

So my daughter is still in my bed (pray for me). The only time she settles downs and feels safe is when we are cuddling. She would literally pull my arm to either get me to hold her, or to create a pillow for herself.

This isn’t necessarily her sole love language, but we get children that want to cuddle all the time. These kids want to be held and tickled and rubbed. They just need any form of physical touch as they associate that with love.

Your child may have more than one love language. The key is to observe very closely until you can identify what they react to mostly. The observation goes beyond looking at how they react to different stimulus around the house. It’s also important to identify what happens around their friends, and even new people.

Your child will either show what their love language is, or they will tell you. We just need to listen more consciously.

Karabo Parenty Post BioKarabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen. She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo. 

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