Do You “Feel” Me, Dawg?

It seems like every time we turn around, someone is telling us one more thing NOT to do when it comes to our kids. Don’t feed them McDonald’s Diabete’s-In-A-Box Meals. Turn off the t.v. Don’t let them outside without their sunscreen. Don’t let them near a bicycle, skis, or skateboard without the helmet.

Lots of don’ts these days. So we were pleasantly surprised to get the nod from the researchers and experts about something we can and should DO more often with our kids.

It’s free. It’s easy. It’s very powerful, and incredibly good for them. It can be done indoors or out, in good weather or bad, day or night, seven days a week.

We’re talking about the power of touch! Ha! But wait! There’s more and you’ve got to hear this one. It’s so cool. According to a fascinating article by New York Times writer, Benedict Carey, the evidence is piling up to prove that a simple touch can communicate a strong emotional message that hits it’s mark immediately and can be more powerful than words.

Carey writes that studies have shown that a simple touch from a teacher demonstrating support resulted in students participating twice as often. Doctors who gave a kind, gentle touch to their patients left them with the impression that the visit had lasted twice as long as it really had. And when a loved one takes the time to massage those tired feet or tensed up shoulders, it can not only relieve the pain but make the relationship stronger and lift depression as well! And it also turns out that the good sports teams touch each other significantly more than the bad ones.

Other research discovered that people could tell the difference, even when blindfolded, between 8 different emotions, negative and positive,  that were being communicated to them through the touch of a stranger. How crazy is THAT?!

The bottom line for you here is to step up your use of that “simple touch that means so much.” Give their little shoulders a soft rub when they’re sad and no words will help. Give them a friendly pat on the back to communicate “a job well done.” Take their hand and give it a squeeze when they’re scared.

Be generous with those magic fingers! Just make sure you’re feeling the emotion you’re trying to communicate. Remember, it works both ways. Anger, disgust, fear etc. can all be communicated just as easily through touch.

When our kids were little there was this song from one of those children’s tapes that was constantly on in the car. It was called, “4 Hugs A Day”, and it stated that 4 was the minimum, NOT the maximum. Hugs were important, the song claimed. Turned out the singer was right.

We took it to heart, and so should you!

P.S. Be sure to save some of those strong, silent, loving messages for your grown-up honey, your friends and everyone else you love, too.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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One response to “Do You “Feel” Me, Dawg?”

  1. Praise: Make It Count!

    […] 3. Seal the deal with some physical contact — give her a big hug, a pat on the back or a high five. Touch, touch, touch your kids in a gentle, warm way whenever possible. Research has shown that a simple touch can communicate a strong emotional message that hits it’s mark immediately and can … […]

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