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Education Reporter

The 5 Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, North-field Publishing, 2012, 224 pp., $14.99

Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages has helped millions of people learn how to show love to their spouses, friends, co-workers, and family members. Now, The 5 Love Languages of Children, coauthored with child development expert Ross Campbell, promises to help parents and educators better navigate their ever-changing relationships with the children they love.

Chapman teaches that people show and receive love in five basic ways: through touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation, by spending quality time together, and through the giving and receiving of gifts. Though each method is important, Chapman believes that most people respond especially well to one or two of these methods. This volume suggests strategies for determining your child’s primary love languages, and offers practical tips for showing your child that you love him in ways he is most likely to understand and appreciate.

Chapman and Ross devote a chapter to each of the love languages, and end each chapter with a list of kid-friendly suggestions for showing love. A child whose primary love language is touch, for example, might appreciate “a touch-oriented gift, such as a soft pillow, blanket, or sweater” in addition to the usual family hugs and kisses.

The book also suggests ways in which a child’s love language can help a caregiver determine which forms of discipline will be most effective, and which forms ought to be used sparingly. Discipline, writes Chapman, is an act of love — and the more a child feels loved, the less he will usually need to be disciplined. Chapman offers common sense tips on how to use firm, consistent, loving discipline to teach children to be not just outwardly obedient, but also to love those around them as they should.

Teachers will find the chapter on “Learning and the Love Languages” especially helpful. The authors address childhood anxiety, emotional immaturity, and lack of motivation and suggest ways in which each can prevent a child from learning, and ways in which each can be addressed by taking into account a child’s primary love language. Children need to be taught how to use each of the five love languages, not only so that they can recognize when another person is showing them love, but also so that they can show love to others in a variety of ways. This is an important skill that will serve a child well throughout her life.

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