The following is a guest post written by Heather Gaither of The Incredible Infant
“You know this ends, right?”
That’s what an older friend said to me recently. I was giving my 2nd, Elena, a quick tickle at our homeschool group.
That question haunted me all the way home.
She had a valid point.
After all, at some point I went from “Tickle me!” to “Touch me and die.” (Thank you, adolescence.)
Looking at my three little girls in the rearview mirror, I was struck with how fast they are growing. Am I truly capturing those little hearts? Or just “doing life”?
The teens are just around the corner. Will they let me stay on board their little ship of hormones? Or maroon me on an island and sail on alone?
It’s a scary thought.
A thought that makes me determined to tie those hearts to my apron strings.
Tickling is my first rope.
Here are eight of the tickle games I play with my kids. It’s my first step in securing a conversation spot at the future Teen table.
1. Buzzy Bee
Buzzy Bee is a tickling game created especially for babies. It’s so simple, even an exhausted mom who doesn’t want to get out of bed can play it. (I speak from experience.)
- Lay down with your infant and put your finger in the air.
- Make a bzzzzzz sound and swoop your finger around until it finally lightly touches some part of his exposed chubby little body.
Eventually, just putting your finger in the air will be enough to prompt excited squeals of happiness. (Pavlov’s Law at work!)
2. Tickle Spot
You know the game, I”m Thinking of an Animal? Replace it with I”m Thinking of a Tickle Spot. Only in this version, they only get ONE guess.
Guess correctly, and tickle Mama.
Guess incorrectly, and…well…
3. Favorite Kisses
Go back and forth sharing three of your favorite kisses. Kisses like…
- The Butterfly Kiss ~ eyelashes against the cheek
- The Eskimo Kiss ~ rubbing noses
- The Doggie Kiss ~ a nasty tongue swipe on the cheek. (Do overreact.)
- The Kitty Kiss ~ small little kiss on the nose
- The Hug-n-Kiss ~ a strong hug, with gentle forehead kiss
- The Tummy Kiss ~ mommy blows on child’s tummy
- The Neck Kiss ~ mommy blows on child’s neck
- The Eye Kiss ~ mommy blows raspberries (gently!) on each closed eyelid
Of course, my last kiss is always the same. It’s the MOMMY KISS. mwah ha ha!
- Hold hands for clear access to the cheeks and forehead.
- Kiss rapidly all over the face.
- Abruptly stop and ask “NOW do you know how much I love you?”
- Yes = Express disbelief and repeat, adding tickles.
- No = Express shock and repeat, adding tickles.
4. Tickle Gamble
Ask them to pick a number between 0 and 100.
When they fail to guess your number, and they will (because the House always wins), you win the right to tickle in the spot of your choice.
5. Mom”s Orchestra
Did you know your child is really an instrument?
- Piano ~ play the back like a piano, particularly on either side of the spine.
- Drums ~ rat-a-tat on that cute little bum.
- Tuba ~ big tummy blows.
- Violin ~ rub your index finger back and forth under the neck.
- Trumpet ~ blow little raspberries on the neck.
- Bagpipes ~ place one finger in an armpit and blow on the neck at the same time.
6. My Secret
Whisper “I have to tell you a secret!” to your little one, gesturing for her to come. Then lean super close to her ear/neck and whisper nonsense.
These little whispers and blows tickle the hairs behind her ear and send her into a mass of laughs.
When she pulls away, (because she will) say, “Hold still! I”m trying to tell you a secret!” and do it all over again.
7. Cold Finger
My 100-year-old house is pretty drafty in the wintertime. Poor old thing.
On particularly chilly days, my index finger will decide (on her own, I’m completely innocent) to crawl into the closest child’s underarm cave to hibernate.
Ms. Pointer doesn’t move. She just sits there, nice and cozy. Her presence, however, sends my little heater into squeals and squirms.
8. Talking Backpack
First, hide under the covers with your toddler. Then say “SHHH! Did you hear that?” while running your fingers on the outside of the sheet.
(It was at this point my 2-year-old Lauren would whisper, “It”s the Talking Backpack!” Gracias, Dora.)
With much excitement, let your toddler throw back the sheet and look around for the culprit. Repeat a few times, before letting your fingers crawl under the covers for a last tickle.
The Tickling Rule
I have one rule when it comes to tickling. No fake “stops”. If she asks me to stop (even while giggling) I stop. Period. Game over.
It nurtures her soul, respects her personal space, and is another little deposit in the bank of “You Are Not a Victim”.
For the Advanced Tickler:
- The Tickle Monster Laughter Kit ::: The Tickle Monster has just landed from Planet Tickle. Read the book, wear the special tickle mitts, and enjoy all the guffaws.
- Tickle Me Plant ::: The leaves will close when “tickled” by your kids. Think Venus Fly Trap, only without the digestion.
- Happy Feet ::: Megan did this as a mood improver. I’ll be stealing this tickle tip to help my 2nd’s morning grumps.
- ::: Because Tickle Me Elmo is, like, soooooo last century.
My Secret Purpose for Tickling
Tickling is more than just a fun activity we play. It’s part of a deeper agenda.
Someday, when tickle time is long gone, my children are going to face a question:
Do I share this with mom?
The bonds I create NOW will help determine how they answer THEN.
They will think back on our interactions, and like a fork in the road, decide which path to take.
The path on the right, which includes mom: “I want her to know me.”
Or the path on the left, which leaves me out: “I’m better off alone.”
Tickling is not a guarantee they will automatically choose the include mom path. But it is a very good nudge in the right direction.
Do you have any tickle games your kids beg for? How are you capturing your children’s hearts?