Child Care

Essential Touch

I have never considered myself a “touchy-feely” type of person; at least not with adults.  With children it’s a totally different matter.  During the normal course of my work day I give and receive multiple hugs, sit on the floor surrounded by children, and regularly am gifted with sticky kisses on my cheek.  I hold and rock babies, tickle feet and tummies, and sometimes just place a calming hand on the shoulder of a child that is having a difficult time.  This is a typical day at PromiseLand.


The sad thing is that this is not the case at many centers.  Many early childhood educators are confused and ambivalent about the touch connection with children.  They hate the idea of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers essentially spending their days without the nurture and stimulation of human contact, but they worry about how to protect the children and themselves in a climate of concern about abuse.  Many Americans have found minimal touch and no touch policies safer.  The belief that somehow too much touch will spoil a child also keeps young children from receiving sufficient physical contact. 


Research and practical wisdom offer a clear answer:  young children need positive human touch, and lots of it, in all forms – carrying, holding, a backrub, a hug, a pat, a high five, rough and tumble play, even massage.  Nurturing touch from caregivers is essential for children to feel loved and secure.  Scientists now know that touch is absolutely required for proper physical and cognitive development.  As early childhood educators we need to see touch as more than just a “feel good kind of thing.”  We need to realize that touch is a physiological and psychological need.  It benefits both the giver and the receiver.


So, now I’m going to walk out of my office and how the hall – and get myself a hug!

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