Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Importance of Physical and Verbal Affection

The expression, "Have you hugged your child today?" became a cliche. It is also a rather shallow question, as if one hug sums up what parents are supposed to do with their kids.

Just how important is affection? There are seven things that are primary sources of pleasure for people. Affection is one of those primary sources of pleasure. For a person, child or adult, to have well-being, affection has to be the most important source of pleasure. Training a child to enjoy affection, definitely requires more than one hug a day!

Studies show that when infants and toddlers receive more physical affection, they develop better impulse control. Want to immunize your child against the terrible two's and ADHD? Make sure you hold him often. Physical affection also reduces stress in children. Stress is one of the causes of childhood mental disorders such as depression, ODD and ADHD.

Verbal and physical affection enable a child to learn morality. When loving parents teach morality and impulse control children listen. Physical affection turns children into sponges ready to absorb the lessons parents teach.Teens also need hugs and praise.

How do you know if you are giving your child enough physical and verbal affection. Babies should be carried in a front carrier as much as possible. Don't just keep your baby in an infant seat! Children who can walk, should be held on the lap for at least half an hour a day. This can be broken up into smaller chunks of time. Hold your child while you read to him, or while you are resting together. Hug and kiss your child when you first see him after a separation. Older children also need to play wrestle with their parents. Chase him around and tickle him. I use physical affection to distract my four year old away from mischief and domineering behavior. I say in jest, "I guess I'll have to hold you upside down and tickle you then!" He quickly forgets what he was up to.

You can reduce domineering strong-willed behavior in children by using affection. See http://www.parentingtheatriskchild.com/social%20dominance.html. The dominance drive is reduced by affection. Start by complementing your child on something good you see in him. Let this verbal reward be a starting point for 15-30 minutes of quality time with him each day. After several weeks of this daily habit, you will notice a decline in his domineering behavior.

1 comment:

Janeen said...

I have had my daughter (now 4yrs. old) in mommmy and me groups since she was 3 months old. At around
2 1/2 years of age I noticed she became aggressive against other children both younger and same age as her. Without being provoked, she would just hit or push them without remorse. At around 3 1/2 she stopped hitting and pushing other children, but also developed some kind of fear of playing with other children. At playgrounds, pre-school, swim camp etc. she practically refuses to play with other children. This behavior becomes magnified when mommy leaves. (She has serious separation anxiety.) I'm a stay-at-home mom who has showered her w/physical and emotional affection. Why is she this way? What is she so deathly afraid of that she won't engage with another child. (With the exception of a few friends that she has.)Why is she still so scared when mommy leaves? WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP HER? With school coming in September, my stomach just aches at the saddness she shows when I leave her and the knowledge that when I do leave she just goes into her shell, he safe place. HOW DO I GET HER OUT OF HER SHELL and learn to function happily or at least normally amongst her peers and without me?
Yours Truly,
Janeen