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:
- On Baby Massage
- The Power of Touch (the body-brain connection)
- The Healing Power of Touch
- The Power of Touch (specifically with preschoolers at play)
Photo by Ignacio Guerra