This post by Jean Matthew Hall is part of a ten-part series for parents on the Five Love Languages of Children. It is based primarily on the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell, M.D. (Northfield Publishing, 1997)
Hugs and kisses are the most commonly thought of ways to lovingly touch young children.
But the need for healthy touching starts at birth. Bathing, feeding, diaper changing, burping, putting to sleep, comforting should all involve physical contact between babies and parents AND other significant adults.
But, as children grow the need for touching does not lessen. The more healthy touching children receive the healthier their self-esteem and sexual identity will be.
As they grow the type of touching will change. Little girls hang onto sitting in laps, hugs and kisses longer than boys do generally speaking. But the need for loving touch is still there.
Here are some examples of healthy touching as boys and girls grow:
• Shampooing and brushing hair
• Holding in your lap as you read with them
• Contact sports
• Give-me-fives and fist-bumps
• Playful hitting
• Mussing their hair
• Touching their shoulder
• Scratching, patting or rubbing their back
• Giving care when they are sick
During preadolescence girls particularly need healthy expressions of love from their dads. This kind of affection makes girls stronger and more confident.
When kids become teens, they still need positive, loving touches at appropriate times and places from both parents. It’s counter productive to embarrass them in front of peers, though. Do not force touches on your teen, however.
For children whose primary Love Language is Touch:
• Your touches SHOUT your love, or lack of it, to these children.
• Using touch to express your anger or hostility will hurt these children deeply.
• They love to touch YOU, too! They hug, brush your hair, climb all over you, hang on your neck, pick at you physically. Enjoy and respond!