Welcome back to the third installment of my Choose Love Series. I was able to get a hug from two of my favorite people today. Want to catch up and print the full list?
Post 1: 100 Simple Ways to Choose Love
Post 2: Choose God First
One of the most important ways to fill another person with a sense of well-being is through loving physical contact.
The serious debilitating effects of touch starvation are well-documented. I encourage you to ask Google if you are interested. I'm much more interested in the positive benefits of touch and will discuss them briefly in a moment. But first let's grab the points off the list that have to do with touching! Remember, they were put in random order. :)
1. Snuggle with someone.
17. Give a hug.
18. Give a kiss.
19. Rub someone's back, feet, or hands.
20. Get in a tickle fight.
55. Touch a family member lovingly as you walk by.
76. Wrestling match.
From our first moments at birth, we crave the touch of our mothers. Research has proven the benefits of skin-on-skin nurturing for newborns. It helps them to stop crying, decreases the stress of the delivery, and calms the mother as well. Holding your newborn infant has to be one of the most tender experiences God grants us.
If a fetus has been fortunate enough to spend his fully allotted 266 days in the womb since conception, he has had the luxury of having all his emerging developmental needs met. The uterus and the placenta have provided warmth, protection, nutrition and oxygen, as well as close and continual proximity to the mother's heart and voice. Being in the womb is the "natural habitat" for the unborn fetus. After birth, the mother's body and breasts take over the function of the uterus and placenta in providing warmth, protection, nutrition, and support for optimal oxygenation, as well as close and continual proximity to the mother's heart and voice. Being skin to skin with the mother is the newborn infant's "natural habitat" — the one place where all his needs are met.
There are many well-documented benefits of skin-to-skin contact between a newborn infant and its mother. Skin-to-skin contact improves physiologic stability for both mother and baby in the vulnerable period immediately after birth, increases maternal attachment behaviors, protects against the negative effects of maternal–infant separation, supports optimal infant brain development, and promotes initiation of the first breastfeeding, resulting in increased breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.
I have two toddlers of my own now. If given the chance, they will love on me several times a day. It's heavenly to get slobbery 1-year-old kisses and sweet 3-year-old hugs.
When young toddlers are upset, words alone aren't enough to comfort them because of their limited comprehension of speech. They need:
A shoulder to cry on when they are sad
A lap to bury their faces in when they are afraid
Arms to hug them and provide comfort and reassurance
Back rubs to soothe them when they are ill
Tickles to cheer them up
Hugging, kissing, rocking, rubbing, and cuddling have relaxing and soothing physical effects. A toddler's pulse rate slows and respiration becomes more even. Endorphins released into the bloodstream provide a sense of well-being. Soothing touches are also important for building trust and strengthening the child's emotional attachment to the primary caregiver. Studies show that youngsters in intensive care recover more rapidly if they are regularly massaged, stroked, held, or otherwise able to reap the benefits of human touch.
School-aged children are still so close to babyhood, their need for receiving and giving physical affection hasn't diminished at all. Remember, their sense of self-worth is tied to how much they are touched - either in affectionate ways or silly, playful ways. My 7-year-old is as affectionate as they come. My 9-year-old is, too, although she is less demonstrative. They both like to hold hands, put arms around waists, hug, and give goodnight kisses. They also like a good tickle fight!
In his seminal work, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, Ashley Montagu (1971) brings together a vast array of studies shedding light on the role of skin and physical touch in human development. He goes on to illuminate how the sensory system, the skin, is the most important organ system of the body, because unlike other senses, a human being cannot survive without the physical and behavioral functions performed by the skin. "Among all the senses," Montagu states, "touch stands paramount" (1986, p. 17). Before Montagu published his classic book in 1971, Harlow (1958) set the stage for our understanding of the importance of touch for emotional, physiological and interpersonal development in human and non-human infants. In line with Harlow, Montagu concludes: "When the need for touch remains unsatisfied, abnormal behavior will result" (1986, p. 46).
Entering the teen years is hard for almost everyone. I'm starting to learn how the transition goes as a mother now. I have an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old. Children may start to pull away from the hugs and kisses that were once so natural as they mature and develop outside relationships more fully. Don't be disheartened. They still need the loving as much as before. I can see mine are a bit more embarrassed with public displays of affection, but fortunately, I still get hugs and kisses at home. If the transition in your home has meant far fewer displays of affection, there is still plenty you can do to fill the void.
It helps ease and lessen the loss (of physical affection) when parents can do two things – continue to offer a lesser form of physical affection, and provide expression of caring through words when acts of physical affection are disallowed. Patting your teenager on the back, giving them a side hug, can often get through the painful wall of refusal that is keeping the teenager from the primal parental touch that they still miss. Remember, if you can keep some level of physical contact in place, then as the teenager grows older, and becomes more confident in being older, the acceptance, expression, and reciprocation of physical affection can open up again.
If you are lucky enough to be in a relationship - or several - where you get hugs, kisses, pats, squeezes, etc, then you are very blessed. If you're not, try to create scenarios where you can be the initiator of sweet gestures. Read the Huffington Post article below for how one woman accomplished her goal of getting more physical touches into her day.
"A hug, pat on the back, and even a friendly handshake are processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy," explains neurologist Shekar Raman, MD, based in Richmond, Virginia. "And it doesn't matter if you're the toucher or touchee. The more you connect with others -- on even the smallest physical level -- the happier you'll be."
Get out there and hug away! If you have a favorite mother-child way to physically bond that hasn't been mentioned here, please share it in the comments!
I love this meme. It is so clever!
|Randi G. Fine|
I watched this video with my girls the other night. It calmed us all down for a loving end to the evening.
I was featured!