Despite what they may tell you, every teen needs to be shown love. However, it’s important to remember that not all teens are going to feel love the same way and some may even not know how they want to be loved. Even though it may take some time, you should never give up! To help you in this endeavor here are a few suggestions about how teens feel love.
The 5 love languages are identified by Gary Chapman as different ways that people experience love, both expressing and receiving. The 5 love languages are: acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts and quality time. Love languages differ from person to person, and many parents feel like their relationship with their teens becomes stronger once they learn to identify the teen’s love language and respond in kind.
Teens should receive love in all 5 of the love languages, advises Dr. Chapman, but when the primary love language is addressed, teens feel more secure at home and have higher self-esteem. The positive and caring relationship between parents and teens can help the transition to adulthood go more smoothly. Here are the 5 love languages as they relate to teens:
Acts of Service
If a teen’s primary love language is acts of service, parents may respond to that by performing actions that help their child out. Ideas include performing a chore for them once in a while, picking up something they need at the store, or helping with homework or a project. As long as the parents continue to make meaningful gestures that make the teen’s life smoother and less stressful, communicating via this love language can benefit both sides.
Teens with this primary love language don’t need hugs and kisses all the time, although that is important. Other expressions of love through touch can include lighthearted wrestling, sitting side by side on the couch, ruffling hair, and simple, tender touches. It may be hard for parents to adjust to showing affection to their older child in the same levels as when the teen was younger, but the effort will be worth it as the teen thrives under the attention.
Words of Affirmation
Encouraging words can mean the world to a teen whose primary love language is words of affirmation. Whether parents give sincere compliments, boost a moody teen when she’s down or simply offer encouragement, letting teens know that parents are proud can make all the difference. For parents and teens that have a hard time communicating verbally, letters and emails can convey words of love, support, or humor.
While many parents feel like teens simply take, take, take, the truth is that some teens equate gifts with love. Gifts shouldn’t be expensive or used as a manipulation technique. Ideas for meaningful gifts include remembering to pick something up at the store that the teen needs, a heartfelt card, going to a movie together or arranging a simple surprise. The love language of gifts shouldn’t center on the gift itself, but the gesture of giving and the love behind it.
Adolescence is a time when teens strive for more independence but it doesn’t mean that parents should spend less time with their kids. For teens who love quality time with parents, something as simple as a quick coffee break or running errands together can provide the perfect setting for real, honest communication. It’s too easy for parents and teens to get busy with life, so setting that quality time aside reinforces the bonds of family and love.
Even though many teenagers seem to want nothing to do with love and affection from their parents, it’s still an important task for parents to show their teen that they accept and love everything about them. When a teen feels loved, it leads to a more positive outlook on life and empowers them with the ability to overcome challenges.