In this song, Fred talks about all the ways we can show and receive love in the world. He sings, “There are many ways to say I love you, there are many ways to say I care about you…You’ll find many ways to say I love you. You’ll find many ways to understand what love is…singing, cleaning, drawing, being, understanding, Love You.” Now, this may be a leap, (or my music therapist brain) but this song and Gary Chapman’s popular 5 Love Languages seem to be linked, don’t you think? What I love is Fred brings such simplicity for children to begin recognizing all the ways in which they can feel and show love, and Chapman brings it to an adult audience so we can relearn how we felt loved in our early years and how we best experience love now.
What Are The Love Languages?
The 5 love languages are: Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time. The concept of the love languages is that we feel most loved and connected with others when we experience one or two of these love languages as adults. The same can be true of the children in our lives. Our children are constantly developing and may not have a clear love language just yet. So, try not to worry about “missing” how they can be best loved. Instead, try being a good observer of their bids for connection with you. Our children might be subtle in their connection seeking or super clear depending on their personality and age.
What Am I Trying to Observe?
Do you have a little who wants to be on your hip, asks for lots of hugs, or calms down quickly when you hold them? Physical touch might be important to them.
Does your child really like it when you make their bed, or have breakfast waiting for them in the morning? Acts of service may help them feel your love.
Do you often get requests for “a little treat” or “something special” from you? Gifts can provide a sense of connection for some children.
Does your teen bring papers home for you to look over or ask what you thought of their performance at their game or concert? Your words of affirmation might really help them feel seen by you.
Do you have a child who is always at your feet wanting to cook with you or likes hanging out while you work in the garage or clean? They might be interested in quality time with you.
Where Do I Go From Here?
After you observe, act when you can! If you notice your child bidding for your connection, give it to them and get curious with them. You can ask, “Does this help you feel special/connected/loved?” If you have yet to discover your child’s love language, experiment! A lot of times love languages can be combined. You might try reading to your child at night. This combines physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and possibly words of affirmation. You are spending time with them cuddled on the couch reading, and then possibly telling them what a good listener they are or how they concentrated for a long time, or how lovely it is to hear them read aloud. Every day connection is what’s important. Please remember that you don’t have to create new or complicated scenarios for your child to feel your love.
We all want to feel and experience love from the most important people in our lives, and the best way to do that as a parent is to be open and curious with yourself and your child! And remember, there is no wrong way to show love. The important part is we try to attune to our child’s unique needs over time and evolve along with them. Your ability to be open and loving is enough and I hope you can be proud of yourself for continuing to try. We all know Fred Rogers would say, "I'm proud of you, I hope you know that." I hope you know and feel that.