Book Review: “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman, Ph.D & Ross Campbell, M.D.

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The Five Love Languages of Children truly is a great and important book for every parent to read. It explains the five different approaches of providing love to a child and teaches parents to recognize and speak their child’s love language. By speaking the right love language, Moms and Dads can avoid many parenting issues and pitfalls by effectively connecting with their children and redirect their efforts to building family relationships that are filled with mutual and genuine respect, affection and commitment. Parents who read the book will also learn much about themselves, understand what their own love language is, and thereby improve relationships with their spouse or partner and even their own parents.

Apart from the basic physical needs of food, shelter and clothing, every child needs unconditional love; love that accepts and affirms a child for simply being who they are, not for what they do. Without unconditional love, a child will wither emotionally and can become stunted for life by feelings of inadequacy, fear, anger and resentment.

With a strong foundation of love that fosters a sense of security, safety and well-being, a child will flourish on all levels – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – and be more apt in developing the necessary skills to mature into a responsible, successful and loving adult. This book gives valuable insights and instructions on how parents can communicate each love language to their children as they grow through the various stages from infancy to adolescence.

The five love languages are:

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1. Physical Affection

Cuddles and kisses, snuggling while watching a movie or reading a book together, wrestling on the floor, piggy-back rides, tickling, and playing games or sports that require physical touch all contribute to a healthy emotional life as it tells your child “I love you.”

2. Words of Affirmation

Underlying all words of endearment, praise, and encouragement is the message “I care about you” which nurtures your child’s inner sense of worth and security. Words of positive guidance, such as advising your child to stay away from drugs and cigarettes, steers your child in the right direction in life. However, the manner in which your words are spoken must also be taken into account. Sending the right message but in a cruel and harsh way will have the opposite effect.

3. Quality Time

By setting aside time where you can give your child your undivided attention, you effectively communicate “You are important. I like being with you.” Quality time is not so much about doing something special together, but about being present and being together.

4. Gifts

In order for gifts to become symbols of love and appreciation, a child must feel that his or her parents genuinely care, which is why the first three love languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time) are necessary prerequisites for gifts to have real meaning. The mistake that some parents make and perhaps don’t even realize is to give gifts as a substitute for the other love languages or to use gifts as a form of bribery and manipulation. A true gift is one that is given as an expression of love, with no strings attached.

5. Acts of Service

Naturally, parenting is a full-time service-oriented role. As a parent, you need to remember that the primary motivation of serving your children is to do what is best for them. It is not about pleasing them and serving them all the candy and ice-cream they want. Like gift giving, acts of service should be used in conjunction with the other love languages. The ultimate purpose of acts of service is to be role models for your children so that they will learn by your example and lovingly serve their own family and community when they become adults.

The authors contend that each person has a “primary” love language which seems most important. When it comes to children under age five, figuring out their primary love language is not that clear-cut. Parents will need to speak all five love languages. Balanced doses of affectionate touch, supporting and encouraging words, spending quality time together, giving gifts, and acts of service will surely meet your child’s need for love and keep their “emotional tanks” full.

Recommended Companion Books by Gary Chapman

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