2 of 4 LOVE Posts!
The Importance of Touch
By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
With Pallas Hutchison, Licensed Massage Therapist/Owner of Oasis Massage, right here on Cape Cod
Some of you might be thinking…love + touch = sex.
Not in this post.
Infants and Touch
It is a very rare situation, though it does happen, that a new mom or dad feels uncomfortable touching their baby. It would be most typical with very young or brand new parents. But even here, parents often settle in and get it all figured out.
Skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant has been shown to benefit the baby’s physical development and contributes to a positive attachment relationship between the two. The practice of placing a diaper-clad infant skin-to-skin on the mother is so beneficial that it is now an intervention strategy for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units worldwide. ~Pallas Hutchison
If you want to fall in complete love with a child from afar, *like* the Little Flowers Project on facebook! They totally know about how to love children! Your heart will be softened with every post! These are two of the orphans currently at Little Flowers.
Children and Touch
It is pretty easy still to give lots of hugs to toddlers and young children. However, this is a time when some parents will begin to push children away. Sometimes the addition of a new baby has a mom feeling like she just wants to retreat. They can’t push their new baby away, so sometimes an attention seeking older child is the one who gets a little rejection. It is so important to keep the contact going. Try to enlist support from family and friends with the baby so that you can have some much needed alone time and also make some extra individual time for the firstborn. When you commit this time and touch to your older child they will seek less negative attention and they will be happier.
Teenagers and Touch
There seems to be a stigma attached to the ages around 12 and 13 where often parents feel like their child is getting too old to hug or pat their back. Sometimes the teenager sends this vibe also, “Mommmm…” When my son exceeded my height, things just seemed different. When he sprouted up, he got thin. His bones seemed harder and it just didn’t seem like our bodies fit together at all for a hug. In fact, he became ambivalent about hugging, which made for an even stiffer, unnatural hug. We, as parents have to try our best to overcome these changes. Our teenagers need hugs.
Researchers at the University of Miami had people do a difficult math problem, then had them do it again after receiving a chair massage. Post-massage, subjects showed increased speed and accuracy in solving the problems as well as more pleasure in the task, thanks to the reduction of stress. ~Pallas Hutchison
If you can give your child the edge at school by giving them a hug before they leave…who wouldn’t want that! Maybe rubbing their shoulders, even for a minute, or patting them on the back would make it easier and more natural to maintain that physical contact. We all see teenagers joining contact sports, beginning to date and get physical with other teens and sometimes those most lacking normal, physical contact with parents and siblings are the ones having sex too early and even getting pregnant, a disease or the beginning of a pattern of broken relationships.
Adults and Touch
Pallas Hutchison’s Couple's Instructional Massage teaches people how to touch each other in a non-sexual way.
“Often I hear the only time partners touch each other is to initiate or during sex. Touch is so much more than copulation and shouldn't be restricted to those activities. Also, clients have mentioned that their wife or husband tries to rub their shoulders and is terrible at it, which discourages both from that type of touch. Women, especially those with long fingernails, tend to poke and prod. Men are either too vigorous and cause pain or afraid to hurt their partner accidentally and so use an annoying light touch. I see a difference in how they interact before and after the session. Their body language changes subtly, their words are softer and less guarded, they touch casually. I feel as though this session gives them permission to have that intimacy.” ~Pallas Hutchison
When our children see us touch each other in a non-sexual way, we are modeling for them safe touch.
· Hug often.
· Think long and hard about the pros and cons of that “family bed” and the message it sends your child.
· Show your children that sometimes mommy and daddy sit together on the couch during family movie, instead of the children on top of mommy or daddy, or that mommy and daddy are going to hold hands on this walk.
· If mommy seems sad, daddy should give her a hug and he should call over the kids to have a group hug with her. They don’t need to know (and usually shouldn’t know) the details.
2004 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that sharing a love seat with a partner for 10 minutes lowered blood pressure in premenopausal women. That study also concluded that women have reduced heart rates when they get lots of hugs. But hugs don't have to be from a romantic partner. Various other studies have shown that touch helps asthma, eases migraines, and leads to a more restful night's sleep. ~Pallas Hutchison
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” ~Virginia Satir (widely regarded as the "Mother of Family Therapy")
1 of 4 – Parents and Valentine’s Day
2 of 4 – The Importance of Touch
2 of 4 – Removing Barriers to Open Ourselves to Love
4 of 4 – Couples Love
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