Sometimes it is difficult to say whether being a teenager is more difficult than being a parent of one.
During the teenage years, kids go through a lot of development and changes, and these changes dramatically affect the relationships in their lives.
One of the common issues teenagers face is the feeling of not being loved.
Every parent will tell you how much they love their children. But are we showing them love in the way that they need it?
I first heard about ‘love languages’ when a mom at school talked about how her husband understands that her love language is gifting.
I had never heard this term before but listened intently and realized that it made sense.
She’s the class mom that always comes up with the most original and thoughtful teachers’ gifts. She spends time finding out what they like and making the gifts meaningful.
I was intrigued enough to find out more about ‘love languages’ and came across Gary Chapman’s books about the 5 Love Languages.
He’s written several books on love languages that have helped couples learn how to build a love that lasts and how to speak to your child’s love language and make them feel loved in a way they understand.
His book for teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively, spoke to me the most, and I wanted to share my review with you here.
So how can we use this information to raise our teens to the best of our ability? We need to find out what their love language is.
Each child will have different needs. Each teen will feel most loved in a different way.
In his book, you will learn practical tips on how to:
- Discover your teen’s primary love language
- Learn practical ways to express love to your teen effectively
- Understand the link between successful learning and the love languages
- Address your teen’s need for independence and responsibility
- Navigate the key issues in your teen’s life, including anger and independence
- Set boundaries that are enforced with discipline and consequences
- See how the love languages can help you discipline more effectively
- Respond with love and wisdom when your teen fails
- Build a foundation of unconditional love for your child”
What are the 5 Love Languages?
Although many teens tend to shy away from hugs and sitting on your lap, like they used to, some people’s primary love language is physical touch.
So how do you know if your teen’s love language is physical touch when s/he doesn’t seem to want to snuggle anymore?
Once you start looking for clues, you’ll definitely find them.
Our two sons are very different. Our eldest has never really been someone who responds to physical touch. He’ll say, “I love you,” and we might get a tentative hug, but he’s always been a little restrained when it comes to showing love physically.
On the other hand, our youngest son is all about hugs, backrubs, hanging off his dad’s back and shoulders, or any sensory activity. He’s less of a talker but will show how he feels instead.
So if your teen sits close to you on the couch while watching TV or responds to your hugs, then his primary love language might be physical touch.
I think that most teens would benefit from their parents spending more quality time with them.
However, teens whose love language is quality time feel the most love when you spend one-on-one time with them.
Our eldest son responds more to quality time than physical touch. He’s often coming into our office to chat and ask questions or wants us to sit with him at bedtime and discuss the day.
If you see that your teen is looking to spend more time with you, try to find ways to hang out with them more. It doesn’t have to be extended. They might enjoy being with you while you make dinner or going on a walk and just chatting about whatever they’re interested in right now.
Remember that quality time also involves listening to them. You don’t have to have answers, but chat to them about what they’re interested in and let them know that they’re heard.
This is an excellent way for working parents to connect as it doesn’t have to involve a lot of time. Create a routine where you spend a few minutes each day before bedtime with them, giving them focused attention.
Words of Affirmation
We tend to encourage our younger kids a lot more than our teens.
However, if your teen’s primary love language is words of affirmation, then you should continue telling them that they’re doing a great job.
I feel that this is my love language as I respond well to being appreciated.
If my work is acknowledged, I feel amazing and will continue working hard and giving even more.
In this way, we can find ways to boost our teens, encourage them, or praise a job well done.
They will get a considerable boost in confidence and get exactly what they need to keep going.
We’re not big gift-givers in our family. It’s not that I don’t like receiving gifts, but I prefer spending time with my friends doing something fun and having a lasting memory of that day.
You need to find out if receiving gifts is your child’s primary love language or not. Your teen might enjoy receiving gifts (who doesn’t), but if it isn’t their primary love language, then you’re missing out on a significant opportunity to connect with them.
Many parents might use this language exclusively to their detriment. It might sometimes be easier to give gifts rather than spending time with your teen.
If this is their primary love language, then it’s great to include this in your daily life with small gifts. Maybe it’s a candy bar in the school bag or a new t-shirt that they noticed.
Gift’s do not need to be big. Smaller gifts given more often will fill their ‘love bucket’ and keep them fulfilled.
Acts of Service
As parents, we might feel that we’re always ‘at their service’ when it comes to our teenagers.
However, as a primary love language, this is more about going out of your way to do small things for them that will make their life easier and happier.
It’s always crucial that these ‘acts of service’ are done with a positive attitude.
It might be making their favorite dinner once a week. Or picking them up from soccer practice, instead of them having to take the bus because you know they’ll be tired and hungry and want to get home.
Understanding the 5 different love languages can be very powerful when it comes to connecting with our children and all people in your life.
By using their love language, you make your child feel that you really understand and love them.
Even though we can use every one of these love languages to some degree, it does help to identify your teen’s primary love language to show them that you love them in a way that they will feel most deeply.
This book highlights several ways in which you can identify what your teen’s primary love language is, but if you’re not sure, then you can take Gary Chapman’s online assessment quiz to find out!
Click on this link to take the quiz: The 5 Languages of Love Teen Quiz.
Gary’s book goes on to discuss how the 5 Love Languages Of Teenagers can affect their love, responsibility development, independence, and handling failure.
A section of the book discusses how to speak your teenager’s love language and apply them in a single-parent family or blended family.
It is an excellent resource for parents to understand how their teenager feels and how to express love to a teenager in a way that has meaning.
Teens need this unconditional love to boost their self-esteem and therefore their emotional needs.
Each love language has plenty of practical suggestions and ideas.
The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers is an excellent book that every parent should read.
You might also enjoy reading: The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens