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Discovering your child’s love language

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It’s the Valentine’s season and no better time to focus on complimenting and understanding your child’s love language. Have you ever commended your child for an excellent performance in a test or a well-mannered behaviour, only to have them shrug and walk away as if nothing happened?

Have you observed how your child ‘comes alive’ when you hug him, but acts nonplussed when you get him toys and other gifts, quizzed Abimbola Olayinka, a peaceful parenting coach and Founder of GalParenting Place.

Olayinka said that understanding a child’s love language can be a complex thing, especially because, being children, they are unable to process or analyse what gesture they easily respond to. Parents with more than one child may notice their children respond in different ways to similar gestures.

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Love language, a concept introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman, suggests that there are five basic ways in which everyone (child or adult) communicates love. Your children want to know that you love them, and most times, their love language eases the work.

As Dr. Chapman states, ‘…if you don’t know the love language of your child, you might as well be speaking gibberish.”
The pioneer of peaceful parenting coaching in Nigeria noted that of the five languages, every child has a primary language, the one to which they respond the easiest. This could be:

Words of Affirmation: For the child who blushes all day following compliments like: ‘You did well at today’s rehearsals,’ or ‘I love how you presented your points at the debate’. If you notice that your child longs for a commendation, a praise, you have found his love language here. Explore it by speaking positive words to him. Your compliments should revolve around his personality, his attitude, his projects and growth, and anything that lets him know you notice and love him.

Quality Time: The quality-time child wants you for himself. Parents who have more than one child may have experiences of a child desiring more attention than the others. A child with this language seeks undivided attention. From bedtime stories to one-on-one moments with the parents, this child is convinced you love him when you offer him your time. You will often find them heartbroken if you arrive late for their birthday party or drama presentation at the school.

Physical Touch: Does your child like to be hugged, carried, petted, or held? Regardless of age, these gestures trigger an assurance of love in a child whose language is physical touch. They want to feel your love, and a simple pat on the shoulder or peck before they sleep would leave them contented, satisfied in your love for them.

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Acts of Service: You know this is your child’s love language if he: invites you to teach him a skill, or loves staying with you as you fix something in the house, readily carries the grocery bag while shopping, or feels sad if no one sits with him as he completes his homework. Identify the acts your child loves and perform them often.

Gifts: Gifts and more gifts. A fancy wristwatch, a box of chocolate left by their beside, an extra pair of shoes for the school term. These categories of children aren’t concerned about the expensive nature of the gifts as much as they are about the regularity. They may not respond to hugs or compliments, but watch them blush when you hand them a pack of sweets.

Olayinka added that as you study your child and determine their primary love language, do not neglect the other four. You can always integrate all five languages; so long they come from a heart overwhelmed with love for the child. We must love our children unconditionally.

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