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The Languages Of Love

It doesn’t take a bestselling book to know what motivates your children, but it helps. Even without my mother’s intuition, it’s easy to see that my son and daughter are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Kaimana is happy go-lucky and loves to show his love. He does it in so many ways, with cutout hearts and “I love you” drawings and nonstop hugs and kisses.

Hana is full of love too, but she’s also our feisty firecracker. The key to her heart? She wants tokens of affection. Translation: gifts. They don’t have to be big. It can be a single piece of candy. But the stakes for her (and us) are high. If she doesn’t get what she wants, we’re in for a serious toddler tantrum.

No gray area here. They’re as black and white as it comes, in terms of their motivations.

There’s a New York Times bestseller by Dr. Gary Chapman that explains the psychology behind their differences. You already may have read it, or at least heard about it. It’s called The 5 Love Languages. I got this interesting book as a Christmas gift from friends. (Thanks, Lori and Matt!)

To make a long story short, it breaks down everyone’s need to fill their “love tank” into five distinct “languages.” Everyone has a dominant language and the key to filling their need is tapping into their love tank.

So what are the five love languages?

1) Words of affirmation, as in positive praise
2) Gifts
3) Quality time, as in a shared activity that you’re engaged in together. Translation: you are actually interacting with each other, not staring at your smartphones
4) Touch
5) Acts of service. In terms of spouses, this could be something like making dinner or picking up their dry cleaning

The point of the book is that you have to “speak the right love language” to fill someone’s love tank. For parents, since love is the foundation for raising happy, well-adjusted children, this concept is crucial.

A child’s love tank is smaller than our own, so they need to be filled more often. For my son, that means a lot of touch and quality time. For my daughter, gifts and words of affirmation make her smile.

There’s a test to measure what someone’s love language included in the book. Of course, a smart parent or person could just do a little of each to cover all bases.