Bonding and building parent-child relationships through secure touch
When I worked with school kids as a part of an NGO stint, I learnt that when nothing works with kids, love does. I saw that, when words hit the wall, hugs explain. I witnessed that when explanations don’t go through, a smile, a ruffle of the hair, an air punch bring about the desired outcome. I realized that when they are angry, listening helps. When we are unable to understand them, just being by their side makes a world of difference.
What am I arriving at is power of touch
How to be understanding towards our kids and how to always be there for them are qualities that we parents and child-caring adults develop over time. However, all parents and adults can explore something as simple as secure touch to build a beautiful relationship with kids.
What is secure touch in parenting?
By secure touch, I mean the random hugs, the holding your child’s hand, ruffling their hair, displaying closeness and so on to display affection in a non-sensual secure manner [I know that you understand that the secure touch in parenting is obviously non-sensual but writing correct definitions demand that every aspect be specified. :)]. This display of affection reassures your kids that you are there for them with all the warmth and love in the world! Secure touch works for kids, like magic.
How do kids learn about secure touch?
When babies are born and until they are toddlers, they receive immense love in the form of unending secure touch. The lives of babies are usually filled with cuddles, cute talks, and unending warmth in the form of secure touch. That’s where kids learn that secure touch means comfort. This touch symbolizes love, comfort, security and acceptance to their subconscious minds.
When does secure touch start ebbing away?
As children grow up, the touch gradually reduces from our end. The cuddles naturally reduce as their age increases. How ironical is this ratio! This partly occurs in many households because of our societal conditioning. Display of affection has not always been a norm in the Indian society, although things are very different in the mixed urban age now. The cuddles reduce, hugs are not always a priority, and school, playing, talking to kids naturally takes center stage. We parents stop this secure touch rather unknowingly. It’s alright but we need to sit down and realize how much this impacts our kids.
“The absence of this touch also end up making such kids emotionally rigid adults.”
Yes, you read that right. Lack of secure touch in the lives of kids has some negative repercussions. The physical attention is also related to emotional security among children. Many children who do not have ample physical and emotional attention have a higher risk for behavioural and emotional.?They might even develop self-esteem issues and other complexes. Hard to believe right? Especially when you think “I grew up into a sound adult despite my mother not hugging me often. My dad never displayed any affection!” Well what worked for us may not work for the new-age kids. They simply need more love, warmth and affection to become emotionally sound, secure adults because of the way the world is. Watch this video on Lack of Touch, to understand this concept better.
Listing the benefits of secure touch
That gentle hug reinforces a sense of warmth in the hearts of your kids.
That light ruffling of hair when you are asking them “How your day was” tells them that you genuinely care and love.
They learn to identify love through these gestures of secure touch.
They are emotionally sound secure kids, when they have abundance of love in the ecosystem. Secure touch is a simply, effective way of showing this “love.”
Secure, simple loving touch from family members keeps age-inappropriate lust at bay! I am serious here, don’t roll them eyes, you. The logic is that when they get enough love, warmth and security at home, they are not going to go looking for it elsewhere and mislead themselves into seeking sensual love when all they need at their young age is warmth, parental love, platonic friendship and hugs!
Families that are shy about secure touch
“We don’t do hugs!” is what you have been telling yourself while reading this article so far? Oh I hear you. I come from a simple, touch-shy family as well, and I know how this works. Worry not. Beginning a family culture of secure touch and warming up to is easy. For it’s only about “showing” your love to your folks! Read more about this in the latest parental Q&A here. All I would say is, begin with a well-meaning genuine hug and see the awkwardness fly out of the window of your precious home.
Traversing secure touch with pre-teens and teenagers
Now this is fun and tricky business. Unless you have always been a family that hugs it out at every occasion, no matter what, like my joyous neighbours, as your kids grow up, they may not appreciate you hugging them often. Ruffling of hair is something that could enrage your teenage kids! I hear you. There is a way around this. Kids in their pre-teens and teens need space. They need to know that you are like a cool, understanding friend and not a fretting mom or dad. Don’t stop showing secure physical affection if they cringe. Just do it in a more casual manner. Tell them that you need a hug from them to have a happy day. Don’t be pushy about it but be “breezy.”
This is how you begin
Maybe, gently, casually start a ritual morning hugs before they leave for school/college or before the whole family leave home for work and school. Or gently, without fuss, start ending your days with a warm “how was your day?” hug. Does this sound doable? No, then use our Q&A section and write to Naren about your specific concerns to traverse this.
The bottom line…
Don’t underestimate the power of touch. Foster a culture of displaying your affection and use secure, loving touch with your kids. You will see your relationship with your kids blossoming into a more love-filled, warm one, and your kids will benefit endlessly.
Let’s hug it out, yeah?