Touch: Using Physical Affection for Greater Bonds

…touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping.

-Tiffany Field, Touch Research Institute

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.

-Matthew 8:3

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When Jesus healed, he often also touched. He gathered children around him and placed his hands on them. He washed his disciples feet. At the most fundamental level, humans need physical affection. Much research has been done demonstrating powerful positive effects of healthy touch, including emotional and social bonding. Next time you’re around a child, share a…

  • side hug
  • high five
  • pat on the back
  • some crazy handshake!

Touch can also be a “touchy” issue especially with children. You’ll need to build some trust. For example, when you first meet a child, you could…

  • Ask them for a fist bump.

(They may be shy and turn you down, but there’s nothing to feel awkward about here.)

  • Smile and comment on something interesting about what they’re wearing.
  • Stay positive and welcoming.
  • If you’re with them for a while, engage them with some form of play.
  • You may want to give them a light tap on the shoulder and say, “It’s super cool to meet you!”
  • Next time you meet them, ask them again.

Even as a parent, you may need permission from your child if they’re feeling hurt or grumpy. Or you might have a child like mine who is constantly wrapping me up whether I want it or not! Parents could also…

  • Stroke a cheek for wake up.
  • Celebrate a success with a high-five.
  • Habitually hug at least once per day.
  • Give a piggy back or shoulder ride to bed.
  • Wrestle.
  • Snuggle and read together for five or ten minutes minutes.

What ideas do you have?

Build trust and share some healthy, life-giving touch this week.

Lord, your “touch” changes me. Use my touch to fill up a child’s love tank.



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