Research has proven that while a mother’s womb is one of the safest places for a little one to hang out before they are ready to meet the world, it is also the very first experience that a child has when it comes to bonding with his or her mother.While a fetus can hear everything that happens in the tummy and a muffled version of noises that are outside, they also hear their mother talking to them and
can sometimes feel their mothers touch as she lovingly rubs her hand over her swelling belly. And it is right then, that a child is first exposed to the language of love!
We often question ourselves, wondering if our little ones understand the true meaning of love and the answer to that is a resounding yes! Children start expressing and demonstrating the emotions of love, the moment they start showing their likes and dislikes.
In a day and age of everything digital and worldly, we often confuse love as gifts or things that money can buy. But is that the only way to express love? Have we forgotten the simple gestures that mean so much and cost nothing? Have you ever, as parents, often been a bit puzzled when your child did not express much enthusiasm over a shiny new toy or book but instead had that happy and contented look when you decided to spend an hour just with them?
Love has many languages and comes in different forms. From the touch of a mother’s hand on a hot and feverish forehead, to the feel of parched skin on a grandchild’s hand, to a warm hug from a teacher, to spending time with your siblings or to a fun day out with the family, love knows no bounds and can be expressed in more than a million ways.
This brings us to the question of the language of love. Understanding the different languages of love will go a long way when it comes to understanding how our children express love or what it means to them to feel loved.
According to Gary Chapman author of ‘The 5 Love Language’s, there are five ways in which people can speak love and five ways in which we can tell others we care.
Words of Affirmation
These include verbal compliments or statements that are used to express emotional love. From a compliment on how a child looks, to words that tell them how they can light up a day, to simple words of appreciation that bring a smile to their face.
Statements like “You look lovely today” or “you are such a well-behaved child” or “You did a great job today” are all examples of words of affirmation that communicate the emotion of love.
Acts of Service
These include gestures or actions that make the other person feel special. When our children are too small to look after themselves or do things on their own, these acts could include doing things for them. As they grow older, however, these can be changed to teaching them how to look after themselves, so that they can stand on their own two feet. These acts of service could also be linked to spending quality time with them.
However, when it comes to children, this is a definition that may differ from child to child. While for one helping them out with their homework can bring a smile, for another, it could be the simple act of teaching them how to play a game.
Who doesn’t like the thrill of opening a gift or the joy that one feels knowing that they will be getting what they have wished for? A gift to someone communicates love in all senses of the word. For children who look at toys, books and games, as tokens of love, receiving a gift tops the list of visible signs of love hands down.
What is crucial though for us to understand, as parents, is that we must not replace all the other languages of love with just this one. Yes, it is the easiest, and yes all it needs is going to a store and picking up something. But if love were only gifts, would it be enough?
The term quality time, in today’s age of screen time, has indeed become a bit diluted don’t you think? But when we talk of quality time, it means the time that is spent with your children or loved ones without any form of distraction. It means putting away that important email that you have to send out or cancelling that call to your friend and just sitting down with your child and making memories that are albeit small, but so important when it comes to bonding with them.
There is no denying the sense of contentment one feels when spending time with our children. Whether it is taking our little ones to a park or reading their favourite book for the hundredth time or even maybe a cookout session on a lazy holiday with them, spending quality time with your children cannot and should not be replaced with anything.
The sense of happiness and warm love that fills our hearts after a couple of hours with our children is something that can only be experienced.
A great communicator of love, touch is something that goes a long way when it comes to telling someone that you love them. In fact, research has shown that when it comes to enhancing the development of your newborn, nothing is better than the act of holding them on your bare chest with a blanket over their back. Also known as ‘kangaroo care’, this way of holding your newborn is known to have numerous benefits for both parent and child. Your baby is familiar with your scent, touch, and your breathing rhythm, and therefore the feeling that they will experience when they are close to you in something that only you can give to your little one. A great way for both father and mother to bond with their little one, kangaroo care has now gained a lot of importance when it comes to a child’s development. You can also read our blog on ultimate guide to childcare for more information.
Everyone expresses love differently. For some, loving someone may be about spending time with them, while for others it may include other languages of love as well. What is important though, when we talk about love and making someone feel loved, is to always keep the emotion alive and to go all out to make that person feel special.
As a parent, expressing love goes far beyond the words of ‘I love you’. It starts the moment you put your needs and wants on the back burner, the moment you realise that the little one you are holding, is now the most precious thing on earth for you.
For all those out there who have experienced the joy of loving your child, and for all those who are yet to succumb to this feeling of immense warmth that fills your heart, let us all love fiercely, love unconditionally and love with our hearts filled with joy!
Gary Chapman – The 5 Love Languages