You may remember back in the 1990’s that a book came out by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages” and then in 1997 “The Five Love Languages of Children” By Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. There was another one, as well, called “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers.” I remember these books to be very interesting to me because I love finding ways to know myself and others better.
I found “The Five Love Languages of Children” to be very helpful when I was teaching 5th and 6th grade. Whenever I had a student who was a behavior problem or just proved to be difficult, I would go back to Dr. Chapman’s book for suggestions on how I could show love to my challenging students. Because, once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.
“Once I showed them love, a door of communication would open which allowed me to address a world of other things.”
So, now that I’m a grandmother, I thought I’d revisit this super helpful book for ideas on how to identify and show love to my grandboys. We all want to be seen, understood and loved. As grandparents, we don’t always have a lot of time to spend with our grandkids. Sometimes we are so far apart that our time with grandkids is minuscule. If you’re like me you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are! Identifying our grandchild’s love language could help us get to our grandkid’s hearts quickly and efficiently
“If you’re like me, you want every minute, every word and every dime to communicate how much I love them and how awesome I think they are!”
So, while I’m rereading this book, I thought I’d summarize Dr. Chapman and Dr. Campbell’s suggestions on how to identify your child or grandchild’s love language and then I’ll give you suggestions for how to express love to them. Even though I’m giving you this information, I encourage you to get the books yourself and find your love language as well as the love language of your spouse, kids, and grandkids. It really does work and is SO helpful!
What are the five love languages?
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
If you have never heard about the Five Love Languages, that list may make you chuckle. All kids like ALL of those things, want ALL of those things and need ALL of those things. However, when you discover what your grandchild’s primary love language is, you will be able to express your love to them in a way that is deeply satisfying and meaningful to them. If your grandchild’s primary love language is physical touch and all you do is buy them gifts, their hearts won’t be as filled as it would be if you would sit them on your lap and read a book to them. If you want to reach the heart of your grandchild, then try to identify their love language and love them in a way their heart understands. They will remember you forever!
“Identify your grandchild’s love language so you can communicate directly to their heart.”
How to identify your grandchild’s love language
Authors Chapman and Campbell suggest that you don’t tell your grandchildren what you are doing since kids are masters at manipulating situations to get what they want, haha! As grandparents, we know how that is and we are willing participants! Here are the ways you can secretly observe them to identify their love language.
- Observe how they express love to you. Do they always tell you that they love you or thank you for doing things for them? Their love language may be words of affirmation. However, kids learn quickly that if they say the right, sweet words, they can often get what they want. So, you’ll want to make more careful observations.
- Observe how they express love to others. A child whose love language is giving gifts may always be interested in giving gifts to his teacher. When they are with you, notice how they express love to their parents.
- Listen to what your grandchild requests most often. All children want to be noticed and praised, but notice if your grandchild focuses on requests for your time. If they want you to play games with them or read with them or do activities with them they are requesting quality time. If your grandchild is constantly soliciting your praise about their artwork or music performance or the clothes they are wearing they may be requesting words of affirmation. Of course, all children will ask for your compliments every now and then, but a constant request could be an indication of their greatest need.
- Listen to what your grandchild complains about. All kids complain, so frequency and a repeated pattern are what you’re looking for here. It might be especially effective as you observe your grandchild and their parents. Do they complain that their parents spend too much time working and never have time to take them to the park? Maybe your grandchild is crying out for quality time. You can give that to them. Not to replace the parent but to show love your grandchild.
- Give your grandchild a choice between two options. You could ask your grandchild if they’d like for you to bake cookies for them (acts of service) or take them to the park (quality time). Would they like to lay on the couch and watch a movie (physical touch and quality time) or go to the store and buy something (gifts)?
- Ask the parents what they think their child’s love language is. Not only will this help you but it will also help the parents think about ways the can more directly and better show their child love. Not only that, but how they can better love their spouse and others. And that’s what it’s all about, showing love to the whole family!
Some suggestions for showing love to each love language
The expression of each love language will change as your grandchild grows older. You will need to find age-appropriate ways to express your love. You will also have to find ways to fit your grandchild’s unique tastes and preferences. However, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Physical Touch – If you find that your grandchild’s love language is physical touch and you’re not a touchy-feely person, then get over it. I hate to be direct but a hug or pat on the back for a physical touch person will mean more than any gift or word of affirmation. If your grandkids are young it’s easy. Hug them, kiss them, hold their hand, rub their backs. Sit them in your laps, wrestle with them in the floor, swing them around, dance and play contact sports. Scratch their backs, stroke their hair and let them lay on your while you’re watching TV.
If you’re a distance grandparent and you can’t touch your grandchild, then buy them a blanket or pillow. Buy or make a sweater that they can wear that will remind them of you.
Words of Affirmation – While this love language is easy to express, we don’t always take the time to be deliberate so it is often overlooked. Make a point to tell your grandchild you love them without it being connected to a need or request. Make sure your words of praise are true. If they are exaggerated or flat-out untrue, the child will not take it to heart and relegate it to mere flattery. Pay attention to your grandchild’s real strengths and praise them for it. Try to find that hidden treasure in your grandchild and praise them for it. Praise them for their kindness, not just that they look pretty or handsome. Praise them for being patient with a younger sibling or persistence in finishing a difficult task.
If you’re a distance grandparent you can write letters, send notes and cards with words of affirmation and love. Engage your grandchild in phone calls and FaceTime calls and ask them about what they’re doing and express your pride and excitement about the things in their lives.
Quality Time – Quality time is often what people think of when they think of time spent with grandparents. However, in this busy world and distracted life, quality time can practically disappear. Quality time is doing things together while focusing on each other. It’s not so much about the activity as it is the talking, laughing and sharing. Create little traditions with your grandchild where it’s just time for the two of you. And be present! Look them in the eye. Listen to what they say and respond to them. When they visit, take them to get an ice-cream cone. Work in the garden together, not to get a task done, but just to hang out together. Share family stories, look at family photos, do anything as long as it’s together.
When you’re a distance grandparent, FaceTime, Skype and any video communication is your best friend. Be prepared to spend a lot of time just sitting together, maybe in silence, just to be together. Read books together, let them watch you bake cookies all the while laughing and talking, then mail them to your grandchild.
Gifts – For a child whose love language is gifts, gifts are more than just material objects. “They are tangible expressions of love that speak deeply.” For this child, the loss or misplacement of such an item is devastating. This child will make a special place in his or her room for those gifts. How a gift is wrapped is important and the ceremony around unwrapping the gift will also be important. Make sure the gifts speak to the interest of the child. Be thoughtful and deliberate.
For the distance grandparent, this love language is the easiest. However, since our presence and voices will not be as frequent as our gifts, we need to be sure to send our love in words and also make visits. The meaning behind the gift is that you know and love your grandchild. And if they don’t really know you, they won’t get the meaning.
Acts of Service – You can express your love to your grandchildren by “doing things they may not yet be able to do for themselves.” By doing things for them that they can do for themselves is just spoiling them. And while that’s what grandparents are known for, we really want to balance it with teaching them how to do things for themselves. Teaching your grandchildren how master basic skills is a great opportunity to spend quality time, give them words of affirmation and physical touch, too. You can show your grandchild love by fixing a broken toy, helping them with homework, and fixing their favorite food when they come to visit. When you perform an act of service for your grandchild, you are also modeling for them how to serve others.
When you’re a distance grandparent, use FaceTime or Skype to help your grandchild with their homework. Order a pizza online and have it delivered on a weeknight just because it would be fun. If your grandchild is not feeling well, order some soup to be delivered and rent a movie for them to watch.
It will be worth it!
I can tell you from experience that identifying and expressing love languages is worth it! It’s an easy and sure way that your child, spouse and grandchild KNOWS that you love them. When they feel loved, they are more settled, satisfied and peaceful. When their “love tanks” are filled, they can then go into the world and love others.
What a great gift to give your grandchild!
Here are links to the books on Amazon. They will give you so much more help than I did!
If you would like these FREE, handy Love Language Printables, just download Finding your grandchild’s love language now!