I will soon get to see my 3-year-old niece for the first time since Christmas. She’s actually just 2 years old right now, but her birthday is coming up in a week, and it has me thinking about love languages.
Here’s a primer on love languages if you’re not familiar with the concept. The basic idea is that everyone has a few key things that make them feel loved above all other things, and being aware of those things for you and the people you care about can help you love them better.
For example, my love language is acts of service. Once I realized that, it helped me understand why I feel good when someone runs an errand for me, while receiving a gift or a compliment does very little for me. Conversely, it helped me understand why I’m not much of a gift giver, as I incorrectly assumed that other people were like me and didn’t care much about gifts.
The 5 love languages are gifts, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service. I have my own theory that quantity time and chocolate are love languages too.
Anyway, this is about my niece and the little kids in your life. Are the love languages an applicable concept for them?
This occurred to me when I was thinking about buying Anna a birthday present. If she has a love language, what if it’s not gifts? What if she would be happier–and have happier memories–if I read a book to her instead or complimented her for different things she does?
I was a little kid once, and while I may not have been able to identify or express my love language at the time, I can look back and remember the things in my life that made an impression on me. Perhaps it’s an indicator that even little kids have love languages on some level.
If that’s the case, how do you learn them? Observation can only go so far–I’m sure you’ve pretended to like a gift you didn’t care for or suffered through an unwanted hug or two.
So what I’d like to do when I’m hanging out with my niece is ask her some either/or questions to see if she answers consistently. For example, “Anna, do you want a gift or a hug?” Or “Anna, do you want to go for a walk, or would you like me to clean up your toys for you?” Words of affirmation is tough, though. I’m not sure how that would work beyond complimenting her and gauging her reaction.
What do you think? Do you think the kids in your life have love languages, and are you able to identify them?