Touch is one of the most powerful ways to connect with kids! Some kids will actively seek out cuddles and snuggles, while others will shrink away from touch. And yet, touch is crucial for the healthy development of all children. I often "prescribe" touch to families who are struggling because touch is so incredibly powerful for emotionally regulating children, helping them feel grounded, safe and loved.
Here are some creative ways to connect with your little one through touch:
Hug your child at every chance. Good morning hugs, goodnight hugs, goodbye hugs, hello hugs. Aim for 20 hugs a day.
Create a special cuddle time each night as you read stories together.
Create a special handshake with your child that you use as a greeting.
Wash your child's hair. If your child is "too old" for this, have a special "home hair salon" time where you wash your child's hair in the sink.
Brush or comb your child's hair, being careful so as to not to hurt a sensitive scalp.
Create special hairstyles for your child.
Give pats on the back.
Ruffle your child's hair.
Hold your child and rock or sway side to side.
If your child is small enough to save your back, "wear" your child with a wrap or Ergo.
Hold your child's hand, not just for safety but also for fun.
Pinky swear your child.
When talking with your child, ask him to come very close and hold both of his hands as you talk.
Kiss the top of your child's head.
Give piggyback rides.
Hold your child close and swing around in circles.
Have a tickle fight (but do be careful tickling easily overstimulated kids).
Give a hand massage with lotion.
Give a manicure using special nail polish.
Give a pedicure with special foot scrub, lotion, etc.
Trace messages, shapes or letters on your child's back.
Give your child a gentle back massage.
Fingerpaint or play with clay together.
Have your child close her eyes and give a gentle touch with either a cottonball or a paintbrush, asking your child to guess which one. You can use other household textures too, be creative!