Discovering the Love Language of a Teenage Child
Although teens need parents to express love with all five love languages, a
teenage child usually has a primary love language they prefer.
What is a Love Language?
The idea of “love languages” – the way that people “speak” or “express”
love to others and how they prefer love to be expressed to them. People need all
five love languages, but that everyone has preferences about the love languages
they like the most.
The love languages are divided into five basic categories:
● Words of Affirmation
● Quality Time
● Acts of Service
● Receiving Gifts
● Physical Touch
How to Discover the Love Language of a Teenage Child
Parents of teens who pinned their child’s primary love languages when the
child was younger will be happy to know that the love languages stay fairly
constant. Although the love language is still the same, parents may need to “speak
the language” slightly differently during the teen years.
For parents of teens who have not yet determined their child’s love
language, there are several ways to discover the primary love language of a
teenage child. Some websites offer free online quizzes for teenagers. Parents can
send a teenage child an e-mail with a link to a quiz that will reveal a teen’s
preferences for receiving love.
Parents can also casually observe a teen notice how a teen expresses love.
People often express love in a way they like to receive love. So if a teenager often
gives compliments to others or appreciates others with words, it’s a good clue that
the teen values words of affirmation as a preferred love language.
Examples of Applying the Love Languages for Parents
Due to developmental changes in teens, parents may find that what worked
to express love to their child before the teen years may not work as well once their
children become adolescents. Parents may need to change their expression of the
love language of physical touch.
Although a child may have enjoyed and accepted hugs and kisses before
adolescence, teens may more appreciate high fives, elbows, and roughhousing.
Parents of teens can use the ideas below to better understand the expressions
of love that fit into the categories of the love languages, but parents should also
remember that teens are individuals and should take note of personal preferences
by their own children.
● Words of Affirmation – “Thanks for mowing the grass.”, “Did you
know I love you no matter what?”, “I notice you’ve been working hard on that
school project”. Teens who appreciate words of affirmation usually like cards, e-
mails, or even a simple sticky note tucked in a backpack or planted in a bathroom
● Quality Time – Parents can set up a certain time each week to spend
quality time with a teenage child. Parents can also plop next to a teen who’s
watching television alone and simply “hang out” or be there. Family meals
or cooking dinner together are another way to spend quality time with a teen
throughout the week.
● Acts of Service – A teenager who receives love through acts of service
will appreciate even the smallest of tasks. Even if a teen never makes her bed, it
will most likely be noticed and appreciated if a parent makes the bed for the teen.
Other small acts of service include serving a teen a simple breakfast in bed once a
month on a school day, assisting a bit when a teen cleans her room, washing a
teen’s car every once in a while.
● Receiving Gifts – Gifts should be personal and reflect a teen’s
interests and needs. Extreme gifts aren’t necessary. Gifts can be small and
sometimes hand-made including an iTunes gift card for $5, a hand-made
personalized bookmark, a box of homemade favorite cookies, a photograph of a
● Physical Touch – Although some teens do still enjoy hugs and kisses
from parents, others don’t feel comfortable with such affection from parents. A pat
on the back, a touch on the shoulder, or a soft pat to the face may be more accepted
by teens. Games such as arm wrestling or a playful game of rough basketball are
other ideas for giving teens physical touch.
Parents of teens should also note that although a teenage child will have his
favorite love languages, teens still need a little of all of the love languages. Parents
should try to fit in a little bit of physical touch, acts of service, words of
affirmation, gifts, and quality time with teen daughters and sons on a routine