Do Kids Have Love Languages?

IMG_0192I 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?


6 Responses to “Do Kids Have Love Languages?”

  1. Justen says:

    It all points back to empathy. As a former teacher, I studied learning styles extensively and tried to adjust my teaching style to accommodate my students according to their needs and not just my particular teaching style. It’s tough, for sure, but giving to others according to their needs instead of our own is such a blessing.

    Nice words here, Jamey!

  2. Chris Broadbent says:

    I think children definitely have love languages. Our 4 children respond differently to the different languages. It becomes easier to recognize their language(s) as they age, but I think they’re always there.
    It’s probably easier to recognize their language when you’re around them more (perhaps quantity time is the secret decoder ring?), so you might consider asking her parents what she begs them for. Does she always want to cuddle? Does her whole being light up when a parent plays dolls with her or reads her a book? Does she beam when complimented and seem to fish for compliments? Does she always give things to her friends?
    I think you hit a key point when you indicated that we tend to give love how we want to receive it. With some thought and perhaps a bit of observation, her parents may be able to tell you what Anna does to show love. She probably wants to receive it that way.

  3. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Justen: Well said about empathy–I completely agree! That’s neat that you adjust your teaching style to your students.

    Chris: That’s a great point about observing Anna to learn how she shows that she cares for other people–perhaps that’s her showing the way she would like to be loved. I did ask my mother (who spends a lot of time with Anna), and she wasn’t sure. But I didn’t phrase the question as you proposed here, which is a better way to do it.

  4. For my three little ones (2,4,6) who I spend as much time as possible with, but still feel it’s not enough, they LOVE all 7 languages of love you mentioned! And I have yet to see one be more important than the other. Sorry, that doesn’t help at all!!

  5. Katy says:

    Sorry I’m a little late to the party here, but I think kids definitely have love languages. The only child I’m really close enough to is my niece who just turned 11, and if I had to guess, I would say her love language is quality time (which happens to be mine, too). For an 11 year old, she seems wise beyond her years, and truly delights in spending time with the people she cares about. A few weeks ago, some of my family from St. Louis and I drove nearly 5 hours to attend her birthday party, and you could tell by her smile that the surprise visitors made her day even more special. At the party, I noticed that she made sure to greet each of her guests, and then also managed to spend time with each of her friends individually.

  6. […] I will note that I tested out my question about whether or not kids have love languages with Anna. I asked her a series of questions, each with two options like, “Would you rather […]

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