By Lynn Leinhos, MS, LLPC
I have used Gary Chapman’s and Ross Campbell’s book, “The Five Love Languages” when working with adults who are trying to strengthen their marriage or relationship with a significant other. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell does a wonderful job at explaining the five different love languages and how we often show love to others according to our own love language and not theirs. Once we are able to identify our love language and the love language of those we love, we are able to show them love in ways that are more meaningful to them.
I have found the love languages to be an asset to my work with children as well. Children are usually brought to my office in regards to behavior that is disruptive to the family unit. However, children are not prepared with the emotional vocabulary to identify that they are not feeling loved completely so they respond to these feelings in the only way they know how to…with their behavior. Sometimes child will use their behavior in order to receive attention. Well, what is it about attention that makes a child happy? What is it about attention that makes a child strive so hard to gain attention, even negative attention? The attention makes the child feel as though they are worthy or our attention. It makes them feel loved. Being able to identify a child’s love language will enable the parents to understand the best ways to display love to their child in ways they are longing to feel loved.
Once a child comes to my office, I will assess their behavior further to explore if any psychological disturbance is happening. I have been able to work with various families using Gary Chapman’s/Ross Campbell’s child version called “The Five Love Languages of Children”. Chapman and Campbell’s book offers a quiz designed for children at the end of this book to help children identify their love language. I will use the quiz when working with kids, but keeping in mind that therapy is suppose to be a safe and fun experience for children. So I utilize the questions rom the quiz and turn it into a game. One of the ways we play is to have the child roll a dice. If the child rolls an even number, then they will answer a question. If the child rolls an odd number, then they get to pick a sticker or eraser from my collection. This can also be adapted to use for games like Trouble or Sorry by having the child answer a question prior to moving their game piece. By incorporating the use of a game, the child has fun, their guard is down and feels free to answer the questions, and it helps to keep the child’s attention.
After I have worked with the child to help identify their love language, then I talk with the parents and inform them of their child’s love language. I then help the parents to brainstorm ideas on ways they can interact with their child that meets their child’s love language. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Gifts. Chapman and Campbell explain various ways that you can relate to your child according to their love language. If your child’s love language is Physical Touch then Chapman/Campbell suggests to offer hugs, kisses, cuddles, allow them to have a special blanket or toy to cuddle, sit close with them on the couch, or even allowing them to sit on your lap. If your child’s love language is words of Affirmation, Chapman/Campbell suggests to mention specific things that you are proud of about them, write them little notes and leave on their pillow or lunch box, tell them “I love you” often, display artwork they have made in important areas. If your child’s love language is Quality time, then Chapman/Campbell suggests making eye contact with your child, watching a movie together, spending time alone with your child, or bring your child along for errands. For the love language of Gifts, Chapman/Campbell recommends having a stash of inexpensive gifts to offer as a reward for positive behavior, make a special meal or take your child to a special restaurant, create a scavenger hunt for a special gift, or keep an eye out for personalized gifts with your child’s name on it. If your child’s love language is Acts of Service, then Chapman/Campbell recommends helping your child practice for their sports team, helping them with homework, set up their favorites toys and play with them with your child.
I find that working with the family unit to bring cohesion and a stronger bond to be very rewarding. I have found the use of identifying one’s love language to be very beneficial to help children communicate their needs in ways that are appropriate when they lack the ability to express their desire to feel love in a certain way. I not only have utilized Gary Chapman’s and Ross Cmapbell’s work in my practice as a professional counselor, but also in my life as a mom. Knowing how my children experience the emotions of love helps me to meet their emotional needs on their level and I am honored to use his work to help other parents experience this as well.
Lynn Leinhos, MS, LLPC is a professional counselor who works at Daybreak Counseling, PC in Troy, Michigan. She has been working as a counselor for two year treating adults and children.
Prior to receiving her Masters in Professional Psychology, Lynn received her Bachelors degree in elementary education and served several years in the classroom as a teacher. Her previous experience in the classroom and her passion is what lead her to specializing her counseling career toward working with children. Along with balancing her counseling career, she is blessed to be a mother of two wonderful boys.