Love is the foundation of parenting. You may truly love your children, but unless they feel it, they will not feel loved.
It’s 6:45am on a Public Holiday and the PSI (Pollutants’ Standard Index) is hovering at 200 (Unhealthy level). Singapore faces another hazy and unhealthy day of smog from man-made forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. Looks like I have to shelf my much-anticipated cycling and swimming plan with the kids later but for now, I’m out buying breakfast for the family. Alone, not wanting to rouse the wife from her well-deserved sleep.
I usually do this on weekends and holiday mornings, driving out on my own to ‘tapao’ (pack) the wife’s favourite wonton noodles and the daughter’s fav kaya toast from the nearby coffeeshop to pamper them with a break from the typical ‘bread and butter’ weekday breakfast as a way of showing my love as a Dad and Husband.
As parents, we show love to our children by giving our best for our family day in, day out. From the simple daily act of saying of ‘I love yous’ to giving them hugs, reading bedtime stories for the hundredth time, fussing over their well-being and smothering them with goodnight kisses. As parents, we also go out of our way to make our kids feel special on their birthdays and special occasions like Christmas. If you have several children, chances are they would require different expressions of your love because each child is unique.
But what if, despite all that we’ve done, they don’t feel ‘loved’? How tragic that would be.
There is an emotional love tank inside every child. If the love tank is full (that is when the child genuinely feels loved by the parents), the child grows up normally. But if the love tank is empty (the child does not feel loved by the parents), the child grows up with many internal struggles and later in their teenage years, they will go looking for love, often in the wrong places….Much of the misbehaviour of children grows out of an empty love tank…” Dr Gary Chapman.
Acclaimed family author, Dr. Gary Chapman in his #1 New York Times bestselling book, ‘The 5 Love Languages of Children‘ says that everyone of us have different ‘preferences’ of feeling loved and, in return, giving love. Some ‘Love Languages’ will be more dominant than others but they are not mutually exclusive. This sheds light into why sometimes, while we can do many things for our children (and spouses) out of genuine love, all may come to naught if we do not align our expressions of love with their primary ‘Love Languages’. Dr. Gary Chapman says all of us demonstrate and receive love in these 5 ways (in random order):
1. Physical Touch: Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch (not to be mistaken with sexual intimacy, think hugs, hand holding, pat on the back, high-fives etc…).
2. Words of Affirmation: This language uses words to affirm people: Words of Affection (focuses on who the child is), Words of Praise (focuses on the child’s efforts, never on perfection), Words of Guidance and Words of Encouragement.
3. Quality Time: This is about giving the child your undivided attention and quality conversation. Story-telling is a great way to spend quality time with our kids, so are family meal times.
4. Receiving Gifts: For some, what makes them feel loved is the receiving of gifts (but not to be mistaken for materialism. The gifts need not be expensive, think cards, crafts etc…)
5. Acts of Service: For these people, actions speak louder than words. This involves doing things for our children and then teaching them to do things for themselves.
Being hazed in, we took the Love Languages Quiz as a family after our leisurely breakfast. For Angie and I, the results came as no surprise. We have always known we are as different as salt and pepper, and it manifested right down to our Love Languages. But what struck me was that even as mature adults, married for 16 years, we have to still consciously speak each other’s Love Languages to fill up each other’s love tank, what more then, our kids’? In fact, I’ve naively assumed that given Dana’s ‘gung-ho’ personality, her Love Languages would be similar as mine. But no. Seeing her Love Language results was a light-bulb moment for me. It explains why Dana often requests to cook for us and help me with the car washes.
My Primary Love Language
Angie’s Primary Love Language
Dana’s Primary Love Languages
As you can see, all 3 of our primary Love Languages are different! For my daughter whose primary love languages are Acts of Service, Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation, I would need to figure out which acts of service are important to her and then do that often. Does she feel loved when I help her with homework? Or teach her a new life skill? It’s also a timely reminder to me to continue showing affection to her through hugs, wrestles, play times and shower her with plenty of affirmative words.
Why knowing our children’s Love Languages is important:
1) Helps to know our children…deeper: We are all different, including parents from their children. It helps to know how to meet our children’s deeper emotional needs.
2) Helps with communicating…effectively: From knowing our children’s love languages, we can make a deliberate and intentional approach to get the messages across to them more effectively.
3) Connects families…closer: We all love our children and strive to give our best. Knowing what makes them feel loved connects us to our children and forges a closer family bond.
4) Helps our children feel accepted in this judgmental world. They need to know we, their parents may not always approve what they do but we love them unconditionally and we accept them even at times when they disappoint us.
5) Helps our children feel nurtured and loved as an individual.
Therein lies the challenge: how can we figure out how best to love our kids? Is doing our best enough? How can we fill their love tank effectively? Thankfully, there is a short online ‘Quiz’ which everyone, yes including your school-going kids, can do to discover their Love Languages for a start.
How can parents discover our children’s Love Languages?
- Observe how our child expresses love to us and to other people
- Listen to what our child requests most often
- Notice what our child most frequently complains
- Give our child choices between 2 options
- Take The 5 Love Languages Quiz Online!
As part of Nestle Singapore‘s social experiment to get more parents to share their parenting experiences, we would like to invite you to take the quiz below then share with us your thoughts:
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Parents
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Teenagers (13-17 years old)
- The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Kids (7 – 12)
Leave a comment below and share with us:
1) What is your primary love language?
2) What is your child’s primary love language? (It does get a bit more interesting with more kids!)
3) What are some practical things you do daily to fill up your child’s love tank?
BONUS: Like Nestle Baby Club’s Facebook Page for your chance to win a Nestle Goody Bag (worth SGD50) and a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s life-changing book, The 5 Love Languages of Children (worth SGD23). We have three Nestle Goody Bags and two copies of the book to be given away to readers.
For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our lot in life.” Dr Gary Chapman
Hop over to these parent bloggers’ posts to read how they apply ‘The 5 Love Languages’ in their family relationships:
Debs G says
The 5 love languages is such a great book! I remember someone advising me that children’s love languages tend to evolve with time, so we have to always remember to cover all 5 ways to express love as they are growing up.
Thanks for sharing! I often wonder what Noah’s love language(s) is/are, because I want to make sure that his love tank is filled up. I think it’s probably a mix of a few, since he expresses his love for us in a few different ways. I’ll have to keep observing him to figure them out, but at least I know what to look out for now. 🙂
adeline koo says
My love language is quality time.
I have 3 sons, and their love languages are just so different.
Eldest son is physical touch (primary) and words of affirmation..so I have to give him kisses and hugs even though he’s ten this year.
Second son is acts of services. He loves me putting toothpaste on his toothbrush for him, putting on his blanket for him.
Youngest son is quality time. He loves to sit just besides me when I’m reading a book. Playing games with him.
Hope to win this book to remind myself to fill up their tanks frequently.
When I did the quiz recently, I noticed a button for children. Unfortunately it’s recommend for 7 years and up. Mine are way too young. I am sure I can pick out their love languages when I pay more attention to their behaviors.
It’s interesting this love languages. My love language is Words of Affirmation while my husband’s is Quality Time. After the completion of this quiz, it finally dawned on me,
“Ooooo! No wonder he kept wanting to put the kids away with some grandparents! Is he so tired of his children?”
“Ooooo! No wonder he kept insisting to let him do the dishes. Because his second love language is Acts Of Service!”
Me, however, have Acts of Service and Quality Time right at the bottom of my charts. I prefer spending time w the kids (with him around) and him washing dishes for me doesn’t make me appreciate the “help” much.
Understanding these help us to manage the way we love one another. So recently, I’ve been finding pockets of time to do things w him after the kids sleep and he’s been more generous with his words. Hurrah!
Pam Wong says
Thanks for sharing. I borrowed this book from a friend to read before and find that it is indeed a very interesting book.
My primary love language will be quality time. As a working mum. Time is never enough for me and my kids. So I treasure every moment with them.
For my girl, she is physical touch, word of affirmation and acts of service.
For my boy, he will be physical touch, word of affirmation and receiving gifts.
To fill up their tanks, I will ask them sit on my lap and kiss them, ask them about their days. The daddy will ask them to help with household chores, play board games together and making legos together.
My receiving love language is Acts of Service and giving love language is Gifts. My girl is still a lil too young to take the test but based on my understanding of her, hers should be Quality Time and Acts of Service.
It’s really empowering to discover your own, your spouse’s and child/children’s love language. We all communicate differently and often, we hear of friends complaining that they don’t feel loved then when you speak to their spouse, he/she will list all the ways they’ve shown love but why is it that the other party doesn’t feel it? It’s such differences that frustrates. So a good understanding of how your spouse feels loved enriches the marriage greatly.
Karen Ong says
Thanks for sharing.. This is a very interesting book.. I’m sure it will helps me to know more about my kids.. We are all different, parents thinking and kids thinking all are different.. It helps to know how to meet our children’s deeper emotional needs.
Hope to win..
Agree with you that we all have very different love languages at home. For hubby, it’s acts of service that speaks louder than words. For me it’s quality time and words of affirmation and for Sophie, it’s quality time and physical touch as she loves it when I put my things away and play or read to her. When we are shown love in our love language, it’s extra special and speaks volumes.
Tammy Tng Sze Pei says
Primary for myself it’s Quality Time but for my kids 3 (boy) & 6 (girl) it’s all 5 ways.
Why I say that:
-As my kids sleeps in the same room with me, every night they will say good night, sweet dreams, sleep tight & I love you and they are happy to hear the same from me. My girl loves hugs and my boy is more of kisses.
-My girl especially needs me to be by her side when she is doing her homework or practicing her violin. But both loved to be praised for doing something well (actually who doesn’t?).
-They always enjoy food preparation session with me. Usually i would let them make sushi or rice balls using Daiso tools. I even let them bake or make their own pizza.
-My boy always request to go supermarketing with me and my girl outdoor activities.
-I likes to get small inexpensive gifts like stickers, books, water bottle, small toys as good behaviour surprises. When I see cute interesting & not too unhealthy snacks (definitely not chocolate or candies) I like to get for them too. We would all get so excited =)
Debbie Ng says
My primar love language is Acts of Service while my child love language is physical touch. She told me to hug her everyday and kiss her before she go to sleep. So without fail, I will give her a tight and big hug every morning and a good night kiss! 🙂
The 5 love languages was told to me when I was halfway through my 7 years long relationship with my ex-boyfriend (now husband), and it opened up a world of understanding how I was doing it wrong (aka. MY way). How hilarious it is now on hindsight, but I’m thankful my husband is forgiving (haha) and I have learnt to love him through his love language.
My love language is Acts of Service, while his is Words of Affirmation. I think we’re doing a pretty decent job with loving each other based on that, despite it not being my nature to affirm and encourage. :0P
I had my 7 year old try the quiz out and I was truly surprised that what I thought was her top love language, ended up right at the bottom of the list! Boo me! But phew that Daddy and her have the same #1 love language and I have been overall constantly forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and giving her the affirmation she needs too. I hope to do better of course, and let’s see how things will improve!
Thank you for the post Angeline!
Danessa Foo says
I have read this book before but it’s my first time going through the survey questions with my almost-5 year old. I’m surprised to note that her main primary love language is physical touch, just like mine!
She used to reject hugs and kisses when she was younger (around 3-4yo) but I continued to shower that on her. I would chase her around the house and kiss her relentlessly. But of course, I don’t force on her if she shows any sign of distress, Lately, she’s more expressive and have been asking to lie down next to me in bed for 5 minutes before she goes to her own bed to sleep. We would just lie down together, hug and kiss one another until it’s time for her to go to bed.
Thank you for sharing this lovely blog post and for the survey links. God Bless!
Robert Sim says
My love language is acts of service. My eldest son’s love language is quality time, so we spend a lot of time with him on weekends, on holidays, and sometimes also one-to-one dates with him.
ashmika jain says
Simply loved reading it.. Very informative & give me some points to finally ponder..
My Love language is acts of service & words of affirmation. My girl simply read these language quiet well.
For my Both girls ( 8 years & 3 years it is all five..& some of the things we do together are
Physical touch… They simply love being hugged, lie down on my lap ( till now yes ) & put them to sleep
Words of Affirmation really boost their confidence & they weigh the quality of their work on our word of appreciation..
Surprise gifts simply bring a big smile & twinkle in their eyes & they do the same like making card, rainbow loom bracelets or bringing a small flower from the play ground..
Quality time .. Spending time & full concentration is what make them super happy. Whether it be simply jumping over some crazy song to playing some game.. They always look forward to Family time every night where we are suppose to share half an hour doing nothing 🙂 except laughing cuddling & non stop talking..
Acts of service.. They love to help me as long as I am part of it..
For everything I feel the most important is being there for them is what really important ..
Thanks a lot life tiny miracles..
joanna tan says
My Love Language is Acts of Service!
My boy Nigel will be Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. I will do little things like Preparing his fave stuffs for his school snack box, making toys for him out recycled cardboards. I will try to remember to praise him when he helps out like looking after his little sister and when he takes out his homework to do on his own. Little things makes my boy smile!