Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Positive Touch


    When you become a parent you start noticing many different things. Things you may not have noticed before. It is only when you have a child of your own do you realize just how different raising a child could be. Did you know that one of the main things that children need is physical contact? So many people assume the most important things are shelter, food, warmth, toys, clothes, a crib, but all those monetary things are no where near as important as physical contact.
   When babies are born they are said to thrive the best when they are in constant contact with their mother. Many babies that were born early or with birth defects lived simply by cuddling with their moms for hours on end. As our children grow and  start to venture off into the big open world on their own they still crave the constant contact with mom and dad to be sure that at the end of the day they have everything they need to succeed. Even teenagers who try to rebel against the physical contact still crave it and sometimes need it more then ever. There is something in each of us that needs the touch and affection of others. That is why it is so extremely important to be sure to give your children lots and lots of physical affection. Be sure to hug and kiss them. Let them sit next to you or on your lap. Pick them up and hold them as often as possible. Many parents believe that this is spoiling their children. It is not letting them be independent and learn to do things on their own. However, just the opposite is true, children who have plenty of attention at home are more secure to venture off independently because they know if anything should happen their parents have their back. Have you ever noticed that sometimes right after your child hits a big milestone they may seem "clingy" to you? It is usually because they realize they are growing up and although they are excited they are also still nervous and scared and are looking to you for help. You need to assure them that you are there and will always be there.
   Physical contact is so important in the development of a child. A lack of physical contact can affect a child's physical, social and mental development. I have seen how important it has been just with the fourteen months since Xavier has been born.  When he was a newborn we did a lot of skin to skin contact. It not only helped with some of our breastfeeding troubles (See our story here) it also helped him to calm down much faster and to fall asleep when he was having difficulties. It is always especially affective when Xavier is sick. We just hold him and rub his back and he lays on us and you can see how much the physical affection helps him to feel better.
     A lack of physical contact can severely affect children. Children receive their confidence from how well you show them affection. Children who do not receive much physical affection have much lower self esteem, learning difficulties, difficulties concentrating, bed wetting issues, and problems sleeping. Parents need to remember that there are so many times when you may raise your voice or use hands for disciplining or correcting (not necessarily spanking, think of how many times you may grab your child by the shoulder, the arm, etc, just to get their attention) and there are even fewer times when you use that same voice and hands to offer positive affection.  It is important to take every opportunity possible to show your child physical affection to encourage love. It will relieve their stress and yours. Plus, it helps your child feel more secure not just at home but even when they are not with you. This way they know that when they do see you there will be lots of snuggles to make up for the time that was lost.
   This is one of the easiest things a parent can do to help their child be able to not just survive but thrive in our world. You don't have to know much about being a parent, you don't have to be rich, you don't have to be home with your child everyday, you simply have to hug them, kiss them, sit next to them, hold their hand, cuddle with them on the couch, rub their backs while they lay on their bed, show your child the power of love simply from the touch of your hand.

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