We all need physical touch! It is essential to our well-being, just as much as good food and sleep and other components of health. Research has shown that monkeys will choose physical contact over food, if they are being “touch-deprived”. In another study, babies in overcrowded orphanages had a greater chance of survival if their cribs were near the doorway where workers might pat them as they passed. Touch is critical to our well-being.
Pestering, poking, tickling and teasing is sometimes just a way of begging for physical contact. It’s a way of inviting to be touched and touching others. We all need touch, but poking and tickling isn’t exactly the best method for getting our needs met. What is an acceptable way to get the healthy, nurturing body contact that we all need?
When pestering got to be a big problem at my house, I decided we needed to institute some morning bear hugs! So as everyone came out to our morning devotional, I had them line up and give the person across from them a big l-o-n-g bear hug. I told them to keep hugging until I said “stop”, which resulted in giggles. Then we rotated around until everyone had given everyone else a cozy extended hug.
I loved to watch my babies with my teenagers. A baby needs to be held and touched and played with. One of my sons would take the baby into his room regularly to just talk to and hold. Teenagers benefit so much from physical contact, and may feel awkward with hugs and kisses from parents, even though they still need them. A baby and a teen are a great combination!
What else have we tried in our family?
- Letting the kids roll and wrestle
- Hand massages (great while you are sitting together)
- Goodbye and hello kisses
- Arm wrestling (or leg wrestling!)
- Family dancing together (boy with girl, or girl with girl or any combination works!)
Teach your kids some acceptable ways to get that much-needed physical contact, and the poking and pestering will diminish.
If you want to tone down the pestering, try starting the day with a big bear hug!
May I recommend: