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The power of good touch



Science proves touch beyond infancy very beneficial

Science proves touch beyond infancy very beneficial


When our son was an infant, we traveled with him a lot. His mom nursed him, and I often carried him in sling or a Baby Bjorn. Every now and then, especially in the south, someone – a server, a cashier – would feel compelled to say, “You’re holding that baby too much. You’re gonna spoil him! You shouldn’t hold him all the time. It’s not good.” They were always at least middle aged, more often elderly. We made a joke out of it. And needless to say, we didn’t alter our behavior at all.

Science has proven us right to laugh at this ridiculously bad advice from another era. In Moms.com, Samira Khan cites multiple studies that show the wisdom of what many indigenous cultures have known for millennia: holding an infant, hugging a child, being physically present, are all beneficial not only for emotional health, but for actual physical health.

READ MORE: How to raise emotionally intelligent kids to conquer stress

As Khan puts it: “Medical science has also proven that physical touch has a direct effect on the human body and mind, because the positive, or ‘good touch,’ triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which creates feelings of emotional attachment and strong bonding between parent and child.”

Even as children grow, enter middle school, and seem to be even more independent and less needy, Khan maintains you “always greet him with a hug and gentle kiss, and when your child is worried or upset, listen to him while patting his back or holding the child tight, giving the feel that you are always there for him.”

Ironically, in tween years and high school, when children typically often assert even more adult-like control, is the age when they need your emotional and moral support as much as when they were infants. Khan says, “Being physically close to them is one of the key elements that contribute to their strong emotional development. In fact, the "good touch” at this age will positively affect your child’s behavioral patterns.

According to Khan’s article, adults who experienced positive physical touch and strong emotional bonding in childhood score better on “emotional intelligence” charts. They are more empathetic, resilient, and, in a word, happier.



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