By Jim Burns

*Used with Permission

Some parents find it tough to express their emotions to family members. But finding a way to communicate love is vitally important to the health and growth of each family member. Saying “I love you” is one of the most important gifts you can give to your children. I encourage you to say it often! While expressing your emotions verbally is needed, it is important to realize that there are other ways to communicate your love that are just as important.

In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he explains that everyone has emotional “tanks.” According to Chapman, we help keep others’ tanks full by using five “love languages” that he has identified. He says that most of us have a “primary” love language, although all of them can be important for healthy relationships. If you want to succeed at showing your love to your kids, identify their primary love language(s) and then do your best to communicate using those languages.

Here is a brief look at the five ways to express your love to your kids:

  1. Words of affirmation. Criticism, if overdone, can create devastating consequences in adult life. Determine to praise your child right for every good thing you see him or her doing. A minimum of two compliments a day is a good goal.
  2. Quality time. Get down to your child’s level. Discover his or her interests and learn as much about him or her as possible. Be totally present, giving your child undivided attention. Give your child at least a few minutes of quality time. Make it a priority.
  3. Receiving gifts. Gifts, if overdone, can become meaningless and teach a child a materialistic set of values. But periodic gifts, thoughtfully chosen and given with affirming statements such as, “I love you, so I got a special gift for you,” can help meet a child’s need for love.
  4. Acts of service. The next time you perform an especially meaningful act of service for your child, make sure that you say it means you love him or her. Pick a task that is not especially appealing to you but that is very important to your child.
  5. Physical touch. Hugging, kissing, and appropriate touching are very important for a child’s emotional tank. Consider the age and temperament of your child and determine a unique approach in this area. When your child gets older, you will need to be sensitive, but you should still maintain a regular habit of touching for affirmation.