Valentine’s Day’s just around the corner, and how could we possibly forget when grocery stores are now shoving tempting walls of candy in our faces every day (when we just needed milk!). It’s teddy bear galore right now as young loves try to find that perfect gift for their significant other.
But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be romantic. It’s a day to emphasize our love for one another—for our friendships, kids, parents, and more. Use this as a day to shower your love on your kid! Show them that you care and that you’re paying attention to them by using the love languages to connect with them this Valentine’s Day.
The 5 love languages
Gary Chapman’s five love languages are 1. words of affirmation, 2. acts of service, 3. receiving gifts, 4. quality time, and 5. physical touch. Everyone experiences love differently, and the five love languages are one great way to better understand someone you care about.
This Valentine’s Day, we encourage you to explore a few of these love languages and get to know your teen well enough to express love in the way they wish to receive it. If you (or your teen) aren’t sure which one you most identify with, take a quick quiz here to find out! The idea is to focus on the other person to identify ways in which they want to be appreciated. Someone who scores low on the physical touch category probably won’t respond much to a hug, but if they score high on words of affirmation, a simple word of encouragement or appreciation could mean the world to them. Let’s talk about a few ways we can better appreciate our kids!
Words of Affirmation
If your teen identifies most with words of affirmation, words are life to them. When they receive a kind word, it’s uplifting and powerful; however, when they receive an unkind word or even a lack of words at all, that can have a similarly intense effect in the opposite direction. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts of this love language:
- Write your teen a letter.
- Leave encouraging notes around the house where you know they’ll find them.
- Verbally tell them that you’re proud of them and that you love them.
- Compliment your teen. (This can be anything, it doesn’t have to be a compliment on physical appearance!)
- Assume that your kid knows they’re loved.
- Assume that your kid knows that you’re proud of them.
- Use harsh words.
- Remain silent—they need to hear from you.
Acts of service
For the acts of service person, simple gestures are really appreciated. Anything from cleaning the kitchen to running to get them a treat from Starbucks is a great way to show them love. The heart of it is almost never the act itself, but the fact that you thought of them and wanted to serve them. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts of this love language:
- Actions speak louder than words, so show them that you care, don’t tell them.
- Is there a project your teen is stressed about? Offer to help them in some capacity.
- Make their favorite meal.
- Deep clean their room or organize their closet.
- Complete a chore or task that your kid was supposed to do.
- Prepare a self-care night for your teen. Draw a bath, get a new set of comfy PJs, grab a few snacks and drinks for a gaming night with their friends, get them some new skincare things—anything they’d enjoy, go out of your way to make a night of it.
- Wash their favorite blanket.
- Forget to follow through on something for them.
- Ignore their requests for help.
For someone who enjoys receiving gifts, it’s important to remember that it’s not the gift itself that matters, but the intention behind that gift. It can be as simple as picking them a flower, which costs nothing. Don’t get caught up in the pressure of giving lots of presents to this person. Instead, focus on the gesture and give meaningful gifts.
- Pick up a fun treat for them on your way home one day. (Could be food or a drink, a new card game, a necklace they’ve been eyeing, anything!)
- Pay attention. Is there anything they’ve really been wanting? It doesn’t have to be big, maybe they’ve just really been in the mood for a milkshake from Sonic. Listen closely and respond with small surprises.
- Give them something that represents a fun memory, something thoughtful.
- Bring your kid a small gift to affirm you’re there for them when they’re feeling down.
- Forget special occasions. Yes, even Valentine’s Day! Every holiday, birthday, etc. is a chance to share a small token of appreciation.
- Focus on the price. Someone who enjoys receiving gifts does not care about the price of the item. They simply care that you thought of them.
For the quality time person, all they want is to spend time together. You could do nothing at all but sit around and watch movies and they’d probably be happy! It’s just the simple fact that you’re physically beside them. Here are a few ways you can love your kid well in this area:
- Create a bucket list of things to do together.
- Take them out for a weekly breakfast, coffee date, dinner, etc. Show them you want to spend time together by sharing a meal.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Plan something to do together.
- Put away distractions like your phone, work, church duties, etc. Focus on them.
- Spend time on technology when you’re with your teen.
- Assume that any time together is quality time. Make it intentional.
The physical touch love language is often associated with romantic partners, but it’s much more than that. If your teen responds to physical touch, it means that they feel connected to you when you’re doing something physical, which can be anything from a hug to playing games. Let’s go over some of the dos and donts:
- Hug them.
- Grab their hand or shoulder when they’re feeling anxious or sad.
- Get them something comfy, like a fuzzy robe, new blanket, slippers, etc. These are all physical things to put on the body as a source of comfort.
- Create a handshake together. This might sound silly, but they can actually be pretty fun if you can get into it!
- Learn a TikTok dance with them.
- For girls, braid their hair, or find some other hairstyle to do.
- Sit near your teen.
- Distance yourself from them.
- Have long periods of time without some sort of physical act, like a high five, a hug, handhold, etc.
Grab a few of these ideas, or use them to spark your own, and go love on your kid! God made His children unique, and we all respond to very different forms of love and affection. Especially if they’re feeling the pressure of not having a significant other, they need someone to express their love and gratitude for them. So find what your child needs, and show them you care this Valentine’s Day.