A dreaded part of my childhood piano lessons came on the days I got excused from school to go before an adjudicator for grading on my skills. I was very nervous, but I did well enough to receive small silver and gold pins signifying my competency.
At times I felt disappointed by my piano performances, and my mother seemed to know the words to say when I knew I messed up. But when her arm, slung around my drooping shoulders, pulled me close the real comfort set in. Touch can mean more than words.
Meaningful touch blesses a child physically.
We can give almost every child a pat on the shoulder, a high five, a fist bump. Temperament is a factor in how much touch and what kind of touch a child wants. And the touch must be right for the relationship you have with that child, as well as being culturally appropriate.
- Auntie gives a manicure.
- An uncle arm wrestles.
- A family friend sneaks up behind, covers your eyes with their hands and says, “Guess who?”
- Grandma holds your hand in both of hers.
Obviously you can hug your own children but not every neighbor child or friend of your child. Follow the child’s cues. Touch is meaningful when it is done for the benefit of the child, not our own. It symbolizes acceptance. Conversely, if someone refuses to shake hands with you or touch you, it symbolizes lack of acceptance.
Appropriate touch blesses a child emotionally.
If we are consistent about being a source of blessing to others, we will begin to recognize the number of biochemical changes taking place when we reach out and touch. Deep emotional needs are met.
With all the media reports of child abuse and inappropriate touching, we back away from touch. Realize, however, that avoiding healthy, appropriate, meaningful touch sacrifices physical and emotional health in a child’s life.
How can children feel the touch of God?
Obviously God, being spirit, does not touch us physically. God’s touch is inward. It is a lack of fear. It is the absence of anxiety. It’s the knowledge that no matter what noise, what disappointment, what complications surround you—you are held. We crave these touches because they will not come and go with each passing circumstance. These are God’s meaningful touches for us and the children we love.
Ways to bless children right now with meaningful touch.
- Give a spontaneous hug.
- Put your arm around a child while watching a movie.
- Give a goodbye kiss on the head when kids are heading out to school.
Note: The concept of the blessing, along with some of the ideas under “Ways to bless children right now,” are taken from John Trent’s book The Blessing.
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