Do You Speak Your Child’s Youth Sports Love Language?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 1/23/2019

Do you understand how, and why it matters that, your young athlete receives love and encouragement during their youth sport experience?

In 2007, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. His premise is that every person has one love language, one that speaks more loudly and deeply to him or her. 

The languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, giving and receiving gifts, and acts of service. To your child, one of those speaks of your love more clearly than the others. Determining which one will help you communicate support to your young athlete in a way they will truly hear.

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Physical Touch

Some athletes respond to a hug of excitement after a good game or a hug of consolation after a bad one. Do you know if your child is one of those?

Mine weren’t. Hugging was the last thing they wanted from me after a game. My job was not to take that personally and to find out what they did want from me.

If your child is a hugger, then by all means hug them before, in between, or after games. Something as simple as a fist pump could work the same, depending on their preference.

Words of affirmation

Maybe your athlete only needs to hear they did a good job and worked hard. Encouraging words like they’re improving, or that they look like a leader on the field may feed into their preference as well. If words of affirmation are their love language, then be frequent with your encouragement, avoiding fluffy flattery and focusing on words that are sincere and heartfelt.

Quality Time

Some kids just want your undivided attention. They want you to play catch with them, shoot baskets with them, take them to the batting cages, and of course, come to their games. Spending quality time with your children is enough to fill their love tanks.

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Giving and Receiving Gifts

Parents are tempted to speak this language because it’s easy. But the fact is, some kids don’t feel loved by the gifts showered on them. Although gift giving is not the love language of all kids, for some it speaks more loudly than others.

Gift ideas to inspire their motive can include a new bat, sports bag, glove, basketball, or a volleyball net in the back yard. When a youth athlete knows his needs are met above and beyond, they feel loved.

Acts of Service

As our kids grow, we strive to teach them independence. They learn to wash their own clothes, help with chores, and make their own lunches.

When we know that our child’s love language is acts of service, we shouldn’t feel we are robbing them of their chance to learn independence by serving them. When we do acts of service as an expression of love, rather than a duty, we are communicating love. 

Go ahead, wash their uniforms for them while they do their homework. Clean their rooms while they’re away on a team trip. Make them dinner when they’ve had a rough night at practice. Acts of service can serve as gifts, and we don’t have to give materialistic gifts all the time.

Our young athletes need to receive love in all five languages but focusing on the primary love language of your child will fill their love tank quicker and more effectively.

Janis B. Meredith is a family and parenting coach. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how she can help parents Raise Champions.