5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation (Part 2 of 5)

Words of Affirmation … According to Dr. Gary Chapman, “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.”

Sound like anyone you know?

In working with adolescent teens the past 15 years, I have observed how powerful words are in a child’s life. A kid who is torn down at home spirals out of control at school. It affects their self-image, which affects their behavior, which reinforces their self-image. It’s a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape.

At the same time, a kid who is built up at home believes he/she can take on the world. They’re more likely to step out and lead. They’ll shrug off disappointment quicker and are less likely to succumb to peer pressure.

For parents, the key here is to recognize the power of your words and be intentional about using them in a positive manner with your kids. If our love language is not Words of Affirmation, it’s easy to miss the impact an off-hand comment can have on a 14-year-old child.

Now for some practical suggestions and ideas I’ve stolen from some good parents:

  • Praise character over results … it will carry over to the next situation.
  • Encouragement means to “instill courage.”
  • Done well, kids get accustomed to praise and draw self-esteem from it.
  • What you say is what they believe and affects who they become.
  • Words of Affirmation can be written as easily as said.
  • It takes seven compliments to offset one criticism.

***And most importantly … If this is hard or awkward for you or your child, push through. It’s too important to ignore!

Next time: Quality Time

See you then!


The 5 Love Languages is a book by Dr. Gary Chapman that revolutionized my marriage and has been immensely helpful in raising my boys. Dr. Chapman’s premise is that everyone discerns love in one of 5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. The book is the product of decades of research and is a staple for many marriage counselors. In the coming weeks, MyParentLab will continue a five-part series designed to help you identify your child’s love language and what to DO as a result.

About Jeffrey D. Potts, Ed.D.

Raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country, Jeff Potts, Ed.D., grew up learning the importance of hard work and family values. A graduate of Baylor University, he has master’s degrees from two universities and earned his Ed.D. in teaching and learning from a fourth institution. Potts launched his pedagogical career in the 1990s, working full-time with students and parents. READ MORE→