The language of love

Christmas, the festive season.. A time for celebration, love, time together, holidays, delicious delights and of course – PRESENTS!

Although I wonder, it is all about presents? Or is it really about Presence.… togetherness, time, being and doing.

Ever wondered why kids can have the best toy from the shop and be more interested in the box? Or why some people may not show the gratitude you may expect? Why some people love to give more than receive? Or why some people don’t do presents at all?

I invite you to consider the language of love this festive season.Did you know love can be expressed in many ways, and the way in which we give and receive love will influence the quality of relationships with others, and more importantly, our relationship with ourselves.

There are 5 primary love languages: Words of affirmation, Acts of service, Receiving gifts, Quality time and Physical touch.

Consider what this means for you and your family. Personally, my highest rating love language is Words of Affirmation, followed by Acts of Service.. Gifts is last of all.. When I first learned this nugget, it was liberating to say the least! I actually used to feel annoyed when people would give me gifts because I would often assign another meaning to it, or feel like a fraud because I would be saying thankyou without actually meaning it. After learning about the love languages, I began to understand that for people who were giving me gifts, perhaps that was actually their love language, and it is okay that it isn’t mine . I could now be grateful for the thought they had put into making the purchase and the effort of buying, wrapping and giving. And now, I have the tools to give in a way that is most meaningful to those around me.

The most meaningful ‘gift’ for me, is to actually hear or something something which affirms our relationship, love or feels really good. For me, the joy is in the act of giving or receiving a gift which has been truly well considered, home-made or will bring me joy well into the future. My StepDad and I have a lovely tradition where for his birthday I send him a box of chocolates full of empty wrappers… Every Christmas is the biggest jar of cashews I can find – gifts full of meaning and stories for us. For my 30th birthday, he sent me one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever received… 6 buttons. Another story all in itself.

A very close friend rates very highly in quality time and physical touch. She knows I love her when we prepare a meal and eat together, have amazing evolving conversations and I know she appreciates that my hugs are limited to only a select few (and she is one of them)….

On the 5 Love Languages website, there is an excellent questionnaire which allows you to determine your own love language, along with that of your children.

So think outside the box this festive season … and ask yourself.. What is their love language?

Check out “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Drs Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell –  an easy-to-read resource giving practical suggestions for understanding how your child gives, receives, and interprets love, helping you to interact with their behavior and development healthily.


Some ideas from the website to get you started on your present list!

Words of Affirmation

  1. Think of something encouraging to say. and tell them in creative way. You could use a card, an email, a text message, or a skywriter in the clouds…your choice.
  2. Go buy 4 “Thinking of You” or “I Love You” cards at a local store. Write out encouraging notes or love notes and give them to your loved one…once per week.
  3. Thank your ;loved one for how they takes care of at least one specific need for you or your family. Be sincere and heartfelt

Quality Time

  1. Plan a walk or hike or bike ride that you both can enjoy for a few hours. Bonus – pack a picnic with special foods they like.
  2. Make a “Top Ten” list of ways you think your loved one would love to spend time with you. These may be things you’ve not wanted to do or have resisted participating in. Put your resistance aside and make the time to do more of these things together.
  3. When is your loved one at his best for talking? Do your best to be ready, open, and attentive to them during this time each day.

Receiving Gifts

  1. Gifts can represent so much – feelings, memories, love, dreams, etc. Spend some time figuring out something special you’d like to communicate to your loved one, and find a gift that encapsulates this feeling.
  2. Make a silly gift for your loved one using nothing but Scotch tape, scissors, and old magazines. No glue allowed.
  3. Have a “Giftapalooza Day.” Shower them all day with little gifts. The more creative and surprising, the better

Acts of Service

  1. Take some time to figure out the ways your loved one likes to be served. Do something from this list, and let them know that you’re trying to help them. Ask if they likes this act of service, or prefers something different. Either way, you’re doing your best to show love.
  2. Ask your loved one to make a list of 3-5 things you could be doing to serve them better over the next month. When he gives you the list, be sure to do the things that you can.
  3. Make it a family affair! All do something helpful and serving for each other

Physical Touch

  1. For the next month, kiss your loved one every day before and after school or work. Make sure this is the last thing they remember about you before starting the school/work day or the first thing they have to look forward to when returning.
  2. Take time to experiment and learn what kind of physical contact your loved ones most appreciates. is it hugs, kisses, tickling, massage? Ask them and let them know you are having a go

    Remember: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”



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Shannon Hallatt

Senior Occupational Therapist, Founder & Practice Manager at OT for Kids NT
Shannon is passionate about delivering high quality OT services for children and families, and bringing joy to their lives. Shannon believes that every child is unique and has unlimited potential and it is this belief that continues to drive her everyday.

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