How do you express love to your family and friends? How do you prefer to be shown love? We each have our love language.
This is the way that we prefer to show and be shown affection and love. When our children are little, physical touch, protection, and words of comfort are often the best way to show them how much we care. There’s almost no upset in the world of a baby, toddler, or young child that can’t be eased and soothed by the hug of someone who loves them.
When they grow into their tween and teen years, it can become a bit more of a challenge to demonstrate just how much you love them. Teens are notorious for feeling humiliated simply by admitting that they have parents. Getting hugs and kisses from a parent may be too much for a teen to tolerate.
So, how then can you connect with your teen that allows them to know they are cared for,
without condition? How can you help your teen connect with himself so that
he understands why he may feel this way?
Exploring and Understanding Love Languages
Just what are the five love languages? Love languages are the ways that we express how we feel to our family and friends. How you and your teen express your feelings could fall into the same category or may differ.
The key is to find a way to connect your expressions of love so that your teen feels heard, loved, appreciated, and valued.
The five love languages include the following:
1. Physical touch. Whether hugs and kisses, holding hands, or something more intimate
with your partner. A lack of physical contact can make you feel isolated and unloved in a relationship.
2. Words of affirmation. These verbal expressions of love and affection can be as simple as
thanking someone for taking out the trash without being asked or telling them
that they look nice today. Focused words that speak to thoughtfulness are
3. Gifts and tangible items. Flowers, a card, a candy bar, or something more elaborate
can make you feel appreciated and adored if gifts are your love language. The
gifts given and received don’t need to be elaborate or extravagant. For those with this love language, it’s the knowledge that they are thought of and loved.
4. Quality time together. Spending quality time together is an important factor in most
relationships. The key difference here for those for whom quality time is their
love language is that they will crave time with their family members and other
5. Acts of service. This could be as simple as doing the dishes or taking the trash out
for someone. It could also be as elaborate as caring for someone when they
are feeling under the weather. For those who prefer acts of service, lacking support and appreciation can be damaging.
It’s essential to recognize what your own love language is. It’s just as important to learn the love language for your partner, your teens, and other important people in your life. When you and your teen can understand one another’s love language, you’re less likely to see your love expressions getting lost in translation.
Connecting with your teen using love languages
Connecting with a teen using his own love language can be challenging. That said, it’s not impossible once you know what his primary love language looks like.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Physical touch. Your teen may be reluctant to hug you every day. Instead, you could consider something he may be more likely to approve of like a fist bump or high-five.
- Words of affirmation. Be mindful of the positive thoughts about your teen and work more on vocalizing them so that he is aware of how much you care. Look for opportunities to give your teen specific compliments and positive feedback.
- Gift giving. There may be a fine line between gifting your teen to show him that you love him and outright buying his affection and attention. Perhaps don’t get him the expensive gaming console he wants or the gaming currency he is always looking for. Opt for things like dinners together and other things that will help to show you care while also serving to connect you both.
- Quality time. It’s developmentally normal for teens to want to spend less time with their parents. If your teen’s love language is quality time, you may have to take a slightly different approach than simply hanging out with him in the living room. Go out for dinner, take small road trips, and go camping or hiking. Find the activities that your teen loves to take part in and focus on incorporating more of those into your time together.
- Acts of service are genuinely non-verbal expressions of affection. Help your teen with his laundry, take him somewhere he’s been wanting to go and work with him on a project he’s been stuck on. Whatever the service, you’ll find him appreciative even if he doesn’t necessarily know the right way to express it to you.
Connecting with your teen doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply find out what it important to him and do more of that. In no time at all, you are sure to find him communicating better with you and potentially also expressing his affection and appreciation in a way that speaks to your own love language.
Reducing frustrations with mindfulness
While you and your teen begin to navigate this new phase in your relationship there are a few things that you can do to help reduce some of his frustration. Mindfulness is one of them. It will also work on your own frustration levels.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present at the moment. We focus on being aware of what we’re doing, and where we are. It’s about not being overwhelmed or overly reactive to the situation you find yourself in.
With origins in Buddhism, mindfulness can help individuals better focus on the here and the now while helping to stave off some of the anxiety that can accompany a mind that won’t sit still.
Work with your teen by taking a mindfulness class or simply following some online tutorials that can point you in the right direction.
When you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, try to navigate a situation or an argument with your teen use this opportunity to incorporate mindfulness steps. Focus on what you feel, see, hear, and touch. Take deep breaths and try to refocus your mind. It’s not always the easiest thing to teach a teen about mindfulness, but you’ll find that he likely starts to incorporate this form of meditation into other areas of his life.
If your teen has been struggling to express himself or seems to be pulling away from the family more and more due to his mental health, it could be the right time to get him professional help and guidance. Finding the correct therapeutic solution to help your teen with mental wellness struggles is an essential part of helping him heal.
HelpYourTeenNow can help to pair parents and teens with the resources that will better help him on the road to a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life to be proud of.