What if you and your children each spoke different languages?

Imagine the challenges. How would you communicate? How would you express your love? Even if you repeatedly said the words, “I love you,” your child might never be able to fully receive your love on an emotional level. To communicate in a way that your child understands, you would need to learn to speak his or her language.

The truth is your child does speak his or her own language. As Dr. Gary Chapman has famously written about in his Love Languages series, each child primarily responds to one of five “love languages”:

  • Physical touch
  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of service

If you speak words of affirmation when your child’s love language is quality time, your child is not as likely to receive your love on an emotional level. The same is true if you offer your child a hug when they’d rather hear, “I’m proud of you.”

I’ve learned that’s true through experience. When my son Trent was five years old, he’d turn into a cardboard cutout with his hands at his side when we hugged him. Over the years, he’s become more comfortable with physical touch, but his primary love language is words of affirmation.

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