What are some hints to look for if you suspect this is your boy’s love language?
Words of affirmation are my least talkative boy’s love language, so I have to really be attuned to him and his needs. In the midst of four boys, it’s easy for this one to get overlooked. If your quietest is your puzzle, try spending some one-on-one time with him, just hanging out while he does something he really enjoys. Food is particularly important for my hungry bunch, and I discovered that this son will open up over a meal, especially if it’s just the two of us. I shared this with my oldest son, who later took the youngest brother to a burger place and was amazed when he opened up over a milkshake! | Laura Lee Groves
Sometimes in the middle of focusing on one son, and something truly worthy of praise, another son will interrupt awkwardly and start talking about something he has recently done in school or sports. My first reaction is usually to stop him and point out how rude that was. (And yes, some correction is needed.) However, I also realize then that this is a sign that this boy’s love tank is not adequately filled. So though I still might correct his method for getting attention, I will make a mental note that I need to work on affirming this son more. | Monica Swanson
It didn’t take long for me to pick up on the fact that encouraging words was my middle son’s love language. So often he would bring me something he built with Legos or a picture he had colored and he would beg me for affirmation that he had done the project well. | Monica Leigh
My oldest boy takes great pains to show me or share with me anything he’s proud of. Sometimes it’s a lego creation. Sometimes it’s the fact that he’s finished a book. My other boys don’t offer these “bids” for attention. I realized that he needs me to verbally approve of him and build him up. | Jessica Bowman
Tell us about some of the intentional ways you fill your boy’s love tank when it comes to words of affirmation.
My son who thrives on words of affirmation is a doer. He loves to build and make and help. It’s easy to thank him, but it’s also easy to forget in all the hustle and bustle of four boys. I decided once I had a house full of boys that, even though I expected them to do certain things, there was no reason I couldn’t thank them for it — in fact, there was every reason TO thank them. So I just resolved to thank them for every little thing. Their response, especially this son’s, is worth every word. Sometimes it’s just a smile or a light in his eyes, but I see it, and I love it. It says “love” to me. | Laura Lee Groves
I like to keep a small pad of Post-Its on the counter next to where I prep my boys’ lunches so that I can jot a handwritten note of encouragement for them to find at lunchtime while they are at school. Here are some super cute free ones! | Julie Brasington
I love to “catch” my sons doing good things….Things that show character, maturity, and self control. Then I will just speak words directly to that son affirming what I saw, how much character that required, and how I realize he is really growing up when he acts like that. The smile that spreads across his face is all the evidence I need to know that Words of Affirmation are his love language! | Monica Swanson
I try to affirm him before he asks for it while he is playing or creating something. And at the end of the day, while I am tucking him into bed I tell him how glad I am that he is my son, that he is a blessing! | Monica Leigh
When he approaches me, giving him my full focus is important—which always means dropping what I’m doing. I think it’s important for praise to not be overly generic and rote, so I avoid phrases like “Good job!” For example, if he’s showing me his Lego creation, I ask him questions. “What does this piece do?” “That’s awesome, man, what made you think of adding that?” Thoughtfully engaging him goes a long way. | Jessica Bowman
What are some practical ways you can teach your boys to love others well while working within the strength of their love language, words of affirmation?
This is hard, because the son whose love language is words of affirmation is my quietest son; he has the least to say of all of my boys. He’s also the youngest, so I think basically he has a hard time getting a word in edgewise. When he was younger, I’d prompt him and his brothers, even to thank Dad for taking us out to eat. It’s important for him to see that the words that mean so much to him mean a lot to others, too. I’ve also tried to be proactive and had him write a short note or an email to thank someone when they’re not around. | Laura Lee Groves
One thing we do is teach all of our boys to use words of affirmation, whether it is specifically their “gift” or not. Obviously, this might come most naturally to the ones who identify with Words of Affirmation as their main love language, but I think it is important for everyone to practice using words to encourage and build others up. On birthdays and other special days we will focus on one family member as we each take turns speaking words of affirmation to that person. It is so great to see each of the boys learning to articulate the things they most value and appreciate about one another. This also gives them practice being comfortable practicing the art of spoken affirmations! | Monica Swanson
We tell him to encourage his friends and family. He does it so naturally. Any time we overhear him encouraging his brothers or friends, we thank him for loving others and for being such an encourager. | Monica Leigh
Funnily, my boy who needs affirmation is the one most often expressing annoyance with his brothers. The golden rule never goes out of style: helping him to put himself in another’s shoes and realize how words would make him feel. | Jessica Bowman
“One thing to shepherd in the hearts of children who love words of affirmation is to point them away from their own efforts/craving for approval and to the good work of Jesus on their behalf. Sometimes a Words child is so easily satisfied by a ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy,’ but I like to praise them more specifically by saying, “I see God working in your life!” This helps children gain a perspective that celebrates Christ and what He is doing in their little lives!” | Julie Brasington
WHAT ARE SOME RESOURCES THAT WOULD BLESS BOYMOMS WHO HAVE SONS WITH THIS LOVE LANGUAGE?
As mamas, we get the high calling of being the voice our kids hear the most while they are little. The older they get, the more voices they will hear (and this world carries a lot of voices that sound like death), so I am trying to focus now on speaking words to my boys that bring life to their hearts. I want them to learn now how to rehearse truth-filled phrases in their minds when tempted by the enemy to head down a destructive mental path. Here are some of the little life-giving phrases I have used with my boys over the years. | Julie Brasington
A post I wrote, “Parenting: The Power of Our Words” is related to how we speak to our kids, but also has the overflow effect of impacting how our kids use their words. This might be helpful for parents who do not necessarily have the love language of words of affirmation, but could improve in this area to better meet their kids’ needs. | Monica Swanson
These are two books my teenage boys are reading — both offer practical and insightful suggestions on inter-relational skills. Though not necessarily faith-based, these books are full of wisdom and many stories that inspire us to use our words for good and to build up, bless, and ultimately live peacefully with others. | Monica Swanson
This image/pin is great because it focuses on words. It’s important to remember that those with the love language of words of affirmation are also much more sensitive to negative words. | Jessica Bowman
This article on physical touch is the first article in a five-part series on The Love Languages of Boys. Click over here to read an overview on what this series covers, access a printable assessment for children and teens, and download your FREE printable Love Language Worksheet along with other resources!