Every time I got in trouble as a kid, my mum would say, “It’s because I love you that I’m scolding you. If I didn’t love you, I’d just let you get away with this kind of behaviour.” Are you kidding? I thought. My young self was convinced that if she really loved me, she wouldn’t be so harsh and critical. I wished she’d say “Good job” or “I love you” more – but that just wasn’t her way.

5 Languages Of Love Children

5 Languages Of Love Of Children

In The 5 Love Languages of Children, Dr. Gary Chapman introduces the five basic ways to express and experience love. Take a look below to see which rings true for your child.

1. Words of Affirmation

Your child feels most loved when they hear encouragements like, “You did well!” or “You’re #1!”

2. Acts of Service

Your child loves it when you do nice things for them, such as helping them with projects or practicing sports together.

3. Receiving Gifts

Your child feels the most loved when they receive presents and surprises.

4. Quality Time

What’s most important to your child is having your undivided attention during special bonding time.

5. Physical Touch

Nothing makes your child feel more loved than hugs, kisses, holding hands, and cuddling.

You could spend hundreds of hours helping your kids study for their PSLE and chaperoning them to swimming lessons, but for all your effort and acts of service, maybe their love language is actually Physical Touch. So what they really crave is receiving daily hugs from you.

5 Languages Of Love

Why take the quiz?

The key to meeting our kids’ need for love, or filling up their “love tank,” is to express our love in a way that corresponds with their primary love language. Kids who have full love tanks are emotionally healthy and secure.

An even better idea is to ensure that the whole family’s love tank is full. After taking the 5 Love Languages quiz with my husband and daughter, I discovered that while I may know exactly how much my husband liked his work clothes organised (colour-coded, pants on the right side) and what my daughter’s favourite snacks were (bread and macadamia nuts), I had yet to know their primary love languages.

It’s exciting that even though I am familiar with the intricacies of our family life and thought I knew everything there was to know about them, I could still make big discoveries about them. And not just any discovery, but one that helps me communicate my love more effectively.

Learning each others’ love languages

The Language Of Love Children

I didn’t expect my husband’s primary love language to be Words of Affirmation. Mine was too, which I suspected already. I’m the kind of person who could live off a single compliment for a month. My sensitivity makes me easily affected by other people’s feedback and praise.

But my husband? He had always appeared sure-footed and unchanged by others’ opinions, so I would never have guessed that he also felt his best when he received Words of Affirmation. All this time I thought the way to his heart was through gifts!

As it turned out, according to the test, neither of us cared much for receiving gifts. However, there was one person who did care a whole lot about getting presents…and that was our daughter. She had always been tremendously vocal about her Christmas and birthday wish lists (with lots of Frozen toys and dresses), putting them together months in advance. But then again, which kid doesn’t go crazy for presents?

The part that surprised me about my daughter’s test results was that she had a duo primary love language. Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch were tied for the highest score – and, unlike her parents, Words of Affirmation ranked lowest. I guess some of our “good job’s” could be traded in for more rewards and hugs and kisses.

Applying the results

Once all of our primary love languages were out in the open, it was time to apply them. The whole point of the 5 Love Languages is to build each other up. Already, I could see that my husband was customizing the way he communicates with me based on how much I prize Words of Affirmation.

See also: Marriage Tips Every Wife Needs To Hear

Most mummies out there know that after we become parents, we go through instances when we wonder if we’re as attractive as we were before we gave birth. We shop more for our kids’ clothes than our own, and running after them is our new cardio because it’s tough to squeeze in gym time. So when my husband told me recently that I looked nice, I positively glowed. More compliments, please!

As for my daughter, now whenever she is distressed I comfort her with my arms and not just my words. Sometimes just holding her is enough to calm her tears. It’s my fool-proof way of saying “I love you” to her. That, and maybe a feel-better gift in the form of a candy or two.

By Jenny Tai

This was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine