The Importance of Touch
As Jesus performed miracles, He touched people and they were healed. The power through His touch brought healing. I can’t say my touch has that power, but God did create man with the sense of touch. Throughout life, there is purpose and value for human touch.
Psychologists, physiologist, and physicians agree to the importance of touch in the growth and development of infants and children, and even throughout adulthood. Brain research supports the effects of a warm touch that causes the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sense of trust and reduces the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Wow, we are wonderfully made.
This is what we know about touch:
- dismisses stress
- relieves pain
- soothes depression
- strengthens and nurtures positive relationships
- encourages learning and makes it stick
- builds self-esteem
- supports a sense of belonging
- helps problem solving
- implies I hear you, I care, and I’m listening
Though the list is not exhaustive, it does provide enough information to cause thoughts about the importance of touch in the life of a child. What implications does this have for parents?
Find ways to offer those simple opportunities for touch with your child that bring about encouragement and shows love. Below are a few suggestions from infants to older preschoolers.
- As you change your child’s diaper, provide soft, soothing touches along with tones in your voice that bring comfort. Some experts support moments of gentle massage to comfort stressful situations. Many times the experience of a diaper change is not a pleasant one.
- Make bath times fun by holding hands with your child and playing games to relieve the stress.
- Hold hands as you pray with your child at bedtime or mealtime. If you open the Bible during prayer time, allow the child to touch the pages of the book, too. He will learn how important the Bible is by the way you hold and touch the pages.
- Rock your child. I know every child likes to be held and rocked, because of the nearness to you.
- Read a book and allow your child to turn the pages while your arm is holding her.
- Giving a high-five as your child leaves you encourages and enhances his performance for the beginning of the day.
- A hug is always good as you say, “I will be back soon.”
- That pat on the child’s back implies, “I love you.”
- When you take walks or are together in gatherings, holding a child’s hand brings more than just a sense of security.
- A simple touch on the shoulder as your child tries something new adds support and encouragement.
I am sure you can think of many other opportunities. Find ways to use supportive touch in sharing how you feel about your child and his/her accomplishments.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned how Jesus used touch as He healed those with infirmities, blindness, and much more. I imagine He also used touch to bring support, comfort, and encouragement to those who followed Him.