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Midweek Musings: Harnessing the Power of Touch

I recently came across, The Power of a Parent’s Touch and the post resonated with me so much. Now that my oldest is nearly 4, I can feel he’s on the cusp of a time when my touch won’t always be wanted. Already, he occasionally shrugs me off if I snuggle too close and he no longer drops everything and comes running at the suggestion of a hug.  I mostly take it in stride but this small shift has me focusing more and more on the connections that are made through touch.

I think about a fascinating conversation I had with an ex-submarine sailor at my husband’s Christmas party last year. He talked about military men being so starved for human touch they would routinely, and without thought, pat each other’s arms or stand shoulder-to-shoulder while talking – just to feel that connection.

And I’m noticing the effect my children’s touch has on me.  There’s a moment in our routine each day when my 2 year old gingerly places her plump fingers around my neck as she struggles to step into her pants.  It’s clumsy and fleeting, yet I still experience physical joy each time it happens. It’s such an endearing gesture of trust and love.  My kids are little enough that they still naturally hold hands quite often too.  The utter sweetness of it gets me every time.

Finally, I’ve been wondering if my children’s attitudes towards my touch will continue to change until one day they won’t tolerate it all except for maybe a goodnight hug.  Do all kids eventually hit this stage or is it dependent on various factors like temperament and environment?

I’ve heard great things about The 5 Love Languages, a relationship book based on the premise that every person has a primary love language they most respond to: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch, and now there’s a version for kids: The 5 Love Languages of Children.  I’m heavily considering putting this one next on the list for our virtual book club.

For now though, I’m concentrating on being more mindful with my interactions with the kids and trying to incorporate loving touch into our daily routines.  If you’d like to do the same, the article mentioned above has some great suggestions.

I’d love to know, how do you connect with your kiddos through touch – hugs, hair braiding, rough housing?  Share with us in the comments.

P.S. Speaking of our virtual book club, you may have noticed we didn’t post yesterday as scheduled. We got a bit off-track with the launch of the new design but we’ll be back covering chapters 4 and 5 next Tuesday, September 11th.  In the meantime you can check out what we’ve covered so far here and get your copy of the book here.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Therese in Australia September 6, 2012 at 7:42 am

I am truly blessed as my 4yo daughter still loves to cuddle up on the lounge to read stories or watch tv, she loves loads of hugs and often seeks them out but there is nothing I love more than her chubby, warm, soft hand sneaking in to mine. I have friends whose 10 yo daughters still like to sit next to them for a cuddle and I hope my little one will too. My love language is touch so it means the world to me for all of those moments in a day.


Michelle September 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

The Love Languages books gave me a lot of insight into myself as well as the children in my life (adopted, foster, niece). I think it is awesome you are considering them for the book club.
My five-year-old foster son is 125% active boy, but he loves when I sit down with him and put cuticle oil in his nails and massage his little hands. He has experienced so much rough touch that the gentle, nurturing kind really calms him.


mpmk September 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

That is such a lovely gesture, Michelle. I love how conscious you are of your foster son’s need for positive touch in his life.


Josalyn September 7, 2012 at 2:40 am

I love The 5 Love Languages of Children. It is a fantastic book. I have three kids under five, so for me the most interesting thing it talked about was how very young children are still developing their love language and so they need a good mix and balance of all five. I try to do something from each language with each of them every day.
Anyways, I highly recommend the book.


mpmk September 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for the tip Josalyn – good info. for all of us to have before we get a chance to read the book :)


michele September 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

wonderful article today…. a few things from a stranger:

1. 5 love languages is mandatory! that book saved my marriage and helped me identify what my kids need and how to give it to them.

2. i have 2 boys, 13 and 10. its hard to summarize the emotions that go along with the changes you watch happen during puberty. my 13 yo is affectionate… but now has the body of a man. some forms of affection are just not appropriate anymore
. other times i feel like his hugs are more like cries for help. everything else is
changing… but mommy’s arms are still open for business.


michele September 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm

my commenting got cut off… i will try and write more on this from an older mom pov and send you a link! good luck and enjoy those chubby, little hands!!


mpmk September 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Sorry you got cut off Michele, thanks for commenting. My chest tightened a little just at the thought of my little guy getting too old for hugs!


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