As parents, our main job is to provide for the basic needs of our children. To provide means to be responsible for giving and when we say needs, these are the things that we cannot live without. In short, a lifetime responsibility to ensure that our children can survive in this tough world. One job yet the most difficult with no retirement at all! To start, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory classified food, shelter, and clothing as the basic human needs. I think he forgot to mention another one, Love. In this section, I will talk about the reason why Love is a basic need and the ways on how to communicate our love with our children.
What is love? A rhetorical question which makes people ponder and academics studied for years to understand and explain this extremely strong feeling that makes us feel... human. It’s primal, it’s within us. The Storge love we have for our family members, I believe, capture the true essence of what LOVE really is. It is natural, warm, affectionate and unconditional.
Why is love needed basically by our children? Let’s take for example Harry Harlow’s Monkey Love experiment. Harlow separated infant monkeys from their birth mother hours after they were born. He then arranged a setting where the young monkeys are going to be raised by two kinds of mother monkey machines, both provide milk. Here’s the twist, one mother was made of “hard wire” materials while the other mother was covered with “soft clothing” materials. The observation showed that the young monkeys prefer to be in the comfort of the “soft clothing” mother even if they drink milk from the “hard wire” mother. Lesson learned: Food is not enough. Our children need comfort and affection from us to make them feel emotionally secure and develop a sense of belongingness.
As now we understand why Love is a must, let’s learn how to show our love to our children. There are 5 love languages according to Dr. Chapman and Campbell (2012). Every child practices different love languages. It is important for you to find out which one is the most effective to your child. This way, you will be able to communicate and strengthen your bond easily. Here are the 5 love languages and some tips on how to communicate with your child:
- PHYSICAL TOUCH
If your child’s primary language is physical touch, it means that your child loves hugs and kisses! Holding hands is suggested. Your child also enjoys activities that involve physical contacts such as cuddling, wrestling or fun tickling. You may choose child carrier backpacks over strollers since it makes them more comfortable being close to you. You may also read children’s stories together while they are on your lap.
- WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
Children whose love language is words of affirmation always look up to their parents for praise and encouragement. They love to be complimented verbally. Their favorite words are “Good job” or “I love you”. You may write letters to them or give them simple to-do activities. For example, come up with a checklist board that shows them their tasks. Whenever they accomplish a task, compliment them loudly! With this, you will be able to make your child feel cheered and at the same time, you teach them how to be goal oriented.
- QUALITY TIME
When your child‘s love language is quality time, all they want is your presence. They would love to do activities with you, watch a movie or go to the park. Playing materials and toys that are interactive would be useful tools for you. They will also try to get your attention so you should give ample time to be with your child despite your busy schedule. You may call or video call them if you’re away from home. They’d appreciate it
Kids whose love language is primarily gifts are the happiest when you give them something. They will always look forward to their birthdays or Christmas. This could be expensive for parents so we better teach our children the value of a thing instead of the price of a thing. There’s a big difference with those two. You may also be creative and thoughtful. You may play fun activities like treasure hunts with them or bring them souvenirs whenever you travel. Also, there are now affordable educational toys in the market that they would really enjoy. The whole point here is they receive something from you and this makes them feel special.
- ACTS OF SERVICE
Children in this language love it when people do them favors. They would feel grateful when you help them with their homework or chores. Simple gestures of kindness mean a lot to them. You may pamper them by picking them up from school or simply just by teaching them how to serve others.
Now that we know the different love languages, assess your child and find out what your child love language is. Children may exhibit two or more love languages and it is great. I think it is better if you and your child practice all the love languages. This will help them establish good relationships with different types of people in the future. Teach them how to love effectively so they can love others securely.
Harlow, H.F. (1858). The nature of love. American Psychologist, 38, 379-387
Chapman, G. & Campbell, R. (2012). The 5 love languages of children: The secret to loving children effectively. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing