Be Intentional with Touch

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When my husband’s keys turn in the lock, both of my girls stop whatever they are doing and fly to the front door.  As he walks through the door, he is bombarded with kisses and nearly knocked down with hugs.  Sometimes I join the girls, and for a few seconds we indulge in a great big “family hug” right there in the entryway.  You would think it had been weeks and weeks since they had last seen their daddy and not just the few short hours since he had been home at lunch.

There has been much research done on the healing, restorative, reconnecting power of touch.  You don’t have to be a developmental expert, however, to know that children – indeed, all humans – respond so positively to a timely, safe touch from another person.  As parents and caregivers, we have the opportunity to minister to the children we love and care for with loving touches many times throughout the day. 

Many little ones like to have some snuggle time upon waking in the morning; it seems to ease the transition from dreamland to play time.  We hold hands with our children as we cross the street pull them close to soothe a hurt.  Little babies might enjoy the calming touches of infant massage at the end of a busy day of engaging in the world around them, and older children can unwind and prepare for sleep as a trusted person in their life rubs their back while they doze off to sleep.

With so many interactions throughout the day that involve touch, it is easy for us as parents and caregivers to take for granted how important and meaningful this simple act can be.  How can we be more intentional?  As with all things mindful, the key is to slow down and appreciate.

* When you take a moment for morning snuggles, reflect internally and express outwardly how much you love the child you are snuggling and express your anticipation for the day ahead.

* When that little one runs to you seeking comfort from a hurt, take a minute to appreciate the days when a kiss where it hurts and a quick hug are enough to make the world right again.  There is fast approaching a day when the tender touch of a loved one won’t ease the hurts of life quite as easily as they do now.

* When you are gently buckling a child into his car seat or you reach down to take his hand to cross a busy parking lot or city street, allow your heart to offer a thought of humble gratitude for the responsibility that has been entrusted to you. 

* When the day is winding down and you are engaging in a time of massage with your infant or you are tucking  your older child into bed, reflect on the day’s adventures through your child’s eyes.  Consider the people, places, and things she encountered that day and whisper thankful thoughts for the treasure of another day that was gifted to each of you, child and adult, to share together.

These are just a few ideas – there are so many ways to connect mindfulness to the power of touch.  Again, the key is remembering to pause in the midst activity around you to be fully engaged in the moment, even if that moment is just five seconds.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  Don’t let the moments of snuggly warm bodies fresh from rest and sticky fingers holding tight to your hand and squirmy, tickly hugs at the end of the day pass you by!

More reading on the power of touch:

Photo by Ignacio Guerra

Preparing to Read Last Child in the Woods

In January 2009, Tsh of Simple Mom kicked off the Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club.  I wanted to take a minute to point out that the upcoming selection is one that I think pertains to every parent and caregiver in the Simple Kids community. 

Beginning June 4th and continuing through July 16th, the book club will be discussing Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.  If you haven’t already, you may want to make arrangements now to be able to read and participate in the discussion of this book.  Check and see if your local library has it available to check-out or if it can possibly be obtained through inter-library loan.  If you plan to purchase it, you can find it at most any book retailer or order it through Simple Mom’s Amazon shop.

This selection has been on my “to read” list for quite some time, and I am very much looking forward to both the content and discussion of this book.  I hope you’ll join us!

(Comments on this post are closed.  Have a beautiful Monday!)

SK Showcase and Reading Links

It’s Showcase Day again here at Simple Kids!  Today’s submission is from Jennifer of Gill Gazette.  Inspired by this post on button trees, Jennifer and her kids made their own:

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Aren’t those so cute?  Though the post that Jennifer was inspired by was for button Christmas trees, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t make a spring or summer button tree.  This would be a wonderful addition to your seasonal table.  Thank you, Jennifer!

If you haven’t already, you simply must check out the children’s book recommendations from Tuesday’s post on Unsung Favorites of Children’s Literature.  The comments evolved into a treasure trove of favorites from the Simple Kids community.  Thanks so much to all who have contributed!  Next week, one of those commenters will be chosen to receive a new book – one of my family’s favorites.

As we conclude Children’s Book Week, I thought I would share some of the links I’ve come across this week to educate and inspire our collective emphasis on literacy.

I’d love to hear if you participated in a special Book Week activity or celebration, and if you have any links related to books, reading, and literacy, please feel free to share them here today!

Creating Enthusiasm for Books Beyond Reading

reading3Many parents know that reading to a child for just fifteen minutes a day builds strong pre-literacy skills.  Study after study provides resounding evidence that reading aloud to even the youngest children (including and especially pre-verbal babies) lays the groundwork for a strong sense of language mastery.

In the article “Setting the stage for a lifetime in love with language,” Professor Janette Pelletier of the University of Toronto states

“Oral language sets the stage for literacy when children are encouraged to pay attention to the sounds of language – rhythm, rhyme, syllables, sounds within words, letter-sounds and, of course, vocabulary.”

We also know that young children learn best through concrete approaches to learning as they have not yet developed the cognition skills needed to fully grasp abstract concepts.  (Read more on Piaget’s theory on cognitive development here.)

How can parents make the reading experience more concrete? 

Here are a few fun and simple ideas:

* Grab an old sock or a paper lunch bag and create a puppet character based on a child’s favorite  book
* Encourage a preschooler or older child to paint or draw a scene from a book
* Use objects around the house to create a touchable, lovable version of a book character.  This might end up being a baby’s preferred snuggle buddy or a preschooler’s first sewing project.  (Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in sweet book buddy creations like Tillie the Turtle from the sharyn’screations shop at etsy.)
* Find aspects of book’s setting that can be touched, smelled, tasted, seen, or listened to.  Little ones can dig their hands into a bucket of sand to understand what a beach would feel like or a whiff of vanilla extract might help them experience how a bakery might smell.
* Explore the tastes of a book by recreating the food featured in a favorite story.  The  Children’s Literature theme week for Muffin Tin Monday (hosted by Her Cup Overfloweth) showcases some brilliant examples of this idea.   The Very Hungry Caterpillar version created by The Masked Mommy provides sumptuous inspiration for creating an edible version of a child’s favorite book.

What are some other ways to make the reading experience more concrete and tangible for our little ones?

Photo by apdk

The “Unsung” Favorites of Children’s Literature

Yesterday marked the beginning of Children’s Book Week, which according to the Children’s Book Council is

“A celebration of the written word, Children’s Book Week introduces young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes and bookstores. Through Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Book Council encourages young people and their caregivers to discover the complexity of the world beyond their own experience through books.”

Throughout the week, there are celebrations planned in major cities across the U.S.A, and your local libraries and schools may be planning celebrations as well.

In children’s literature, there are classic books – a canon of sorts – that have stood the test of time and find a place in nearly every child’s library.  Timeless treasures like Goodnight, Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Guess How Much I Love You, Where the Wild Things Are, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do See? are some of the standards most every child knows and loves. 

Yet browsing the shelves at your local library or bookstore proves there are hundreds of other wonderfully illustrated, charming stories that your children will find delightful.  How to choose?

If you have a few minutes, would you share with us your unsung favorite of children’s literature?  What is the book that has captivated your family but not many others seem to be familiar with? 

Of course, you can share more than one if you would like.  Sometime next week, I’ll choose from among the comments a person to send a copy of our family’s unsung favorite to – a book I’ll be telling a little more about next week.

I can’t wait to hear more about your family’s favorite children’s books!