A Love Language Minute: Does Your Child Feel Loved?

by Dr. Gary Chapman

Does your child feel loved?
Nearly all parents deeply love their children, yet not all children feel that unconditional love and care. Why this contradiction? Often, parents assume that their kids just "know" they love them, or that saying "I love you" will be enough. But children are behaviorally motivated. They respond to actions-what you do with them. So to reach them, you must love them on their terms.

Sometimes parents don't feel especially loving if they've had a discouraging day. But you can behave in a loving way, because behavior is simple. You can give your love to your children, even when you don't feel loving.

You may wonder if your children can see right through you. Since your children are exquisitely sensitive emotionally, they know when you don't feel loving, and yet they experience your love behaviorally. Don't you think they are even more grateful and appreciative when you're able to be loving, no matter how you feel inside?

It was the apostle John who wrote, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18). If you began to list all the behavioral ways to love a child, I doubt that you could fill more than one page. That is fine because you want to keep it simple-behavioral expressions of love can simply be divided into five categories: physical touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. To uncover your child's love language, visit 5lovelanguages.com.

A word of caution, though. If your child is under age five, don't expect to figure out his primary love language. You can't. The child may give you clues, but his love language is rarely clearly seen. Just speak all five languages because they all converge to meet your child's need for love. If that need is met and your child genuinely feels loved, it will be far easier for him to learn and respond in other areas. This love interfaces with all other needs a child has. Also, speak all five languages when your child is older, for he needs all five to grow, even though he craves one more than the others.

Continue the conversation: Share your questions, thoughts insights, or comments by joining the conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/5lovelanguages

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