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I Love You Rituals Increase Learning Potential Through Touch

touchAs a mum of a daughter who has severe Sensory Processing Disorder Defensive Modulation touch would have been out the window.  For the first couple of years, we had trouble with affection as she didn’t like it (especially with me).  However, around the age of 2, I noticed that she would press her forehead against mine really hard.  At first I could not understand what she was doing but I knew not to stop her.  This was her way of regulating her body and to let me give her cuddles at the same time.  Our Occupational Therapist has been outstanding in helping her cope with touch and now we have the best cuddles.  I love when we cheek to cheek each other as a form of self regulation.

Nevertheless, how do I love you rituals increase leaning potential through touch?

Touch is the only sense we can’t live without. Your child could be blind and be fine, she could be deaf and be okay, but without touching and being touched, a child will die. In 1920, Dr. Henry Chapin, a New York paediatrician, reported that the death rate for infants under two years of age in institutions across the United States was 100 percent. These infants received adequate food and shelter. What was missing for these babies was caring touch. Chapin concluded that being handled, carried, cuddled, and caressed was necessary for life.

A lot of people do not feel comfortable with touching people in public.  A parent may have been raised by someone who was not affectionate.  This type of behaviour will continue through generation to generation unless we all become comfortable in offering someone a hug.  As awareness of sexual abuse has increased so has the fear of being seen touching a child even if it is appropriate.  I know as a child care educator we were told to tell all staff not to touch children.  Educators are told that they can not make physical contact with a child even if they are upset when a small cuddle or arm around the shoulder would provide the child with care.

Brain research confirms the critical role of touch in our mental and emotional health. When we touch one another, a hormone is released called the nerve growth factor. This hormone is essential to neural function and learning. The brain and the skin develop from the same embryonic tissue. The skin, in essence, is the outside layer of the brain. If we want smart, happy children, we must consciously touch them. It is time to relearn appropriate, caring touch and move past our fear of inappropriate touch. We must embrace touch for its value and function in development and learning.

I remember attending Tony Robbin’s Unleash Your Personal Power seminars and in this seminar you had to hug strangers.  My goodness that felt so weird and you did step back at first.  However, it showed that it improves people’s emotional well being.

touchChallenge:

Next time you see your partner give them a hug for two minutes and see what happens.

By understanding caring touch, children develop compassion for themselves and others. Hitting becomes hugging, snatching becomes asking, and the difference between caring touch and unwanted, uncomfortable touch is learned.
With my eldest daughter her hug consists of a shoulder into me or her back.  It has taken a long time to actually get her to cuddle front on with me.  Now she comes for a hug when she needs to.  Even though she gave me a shoulder it was a moment to tell her that I love her.  With Emma I have to make sure that she is aware I am going to hug her so she does not become defensive through a firm hand on her shoulder or arm.  I find light touch sends her crazy.

I Have No Bond With My Child

A few mums say to me, especially if this is their first child, that “I have no bond with my child.”  Then after hearing a mum say this, I hear a massive sigh as a massive weight as been lifted off their shoulders.  They usually then go on to explain how they feel guilty and that they are a bad mum because they struggle to develop a bond with their child.

When your child gets put into your arms for the first time, you do not receive a book on your child. We are all left with getting to know their child.  No matter if this is your first child or your fifth child, no child is the same and every parent around the wall needs to get to know their new child.  Your child brings with them their own personality and some do not fit in the text book. I know mine didn’t read the book before the arrived.

One of the first strategies that I give mums who struggle to develop a bond with your child is a simple but very powerful strategy that can happen anytime, any where.  It is simply to touch your child.  Touch around their face, down their arms, around their little hand.  Touch your child and think about what you are touching as you go.  Think to yourself what their eye colour is, skin texture, anything that is special to your child.  Mums come back to me usually with amazement how strong this strategy was as they were able to explore their child.  Even mums with postnatal depression felt a change, even if it was small, towards the light when they do this activity and in time start to feel love and connection with their child.

Give it a go next time you have time with your child if you also think that “I have no bond with my child.”

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