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Friday, August 18, 2017

The Importance of Touch By Trisha Roberts

The sense of touch is important and conveys information to our brain and body that is used in a myriad of different ways.  Skin is the largest organ of the body.  It serves many functions, but a primary one is to sense and convey the sense of touch to our brain. Touch can express care, affection, and love.  Touch can also be noxious or warn us of danger.

Touch is defined by Webster as, “to handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate.”

Children are equipped at birth to feel; they learn to interpret and discriminate touch as they grow and develop. Infants have poor motor control, so they are unable to initiate touching contact—it needs to be the adult care provider that instigates or makes the first move.

 Mother-child attachment is extremely important and is developed through touch, vision, and hearing.  Many pre-mature babies are kept in the NICU for weeks and months, limiting the amount of nurturing contact they experience with their mothers.  

They are subject to harsh lights and noxious stimulation (intravenous feedings, intubation, and other vital medical procedures).  One can easily understand how some of these children develop an eversion to touch.

Studies have shown that when we are deprived of touch, severe and significant problems can result.  Harry Harlow was a famous research psychologist who used monkeys in the 1950’s and 1960’s to study the effects of touch and development. 

 Baby monkeys were raised in isolation and were deprived of their mother’s touch and other social interaction, resulting in atypical development.  Anti-social and even psychotic behavior resulted as well as poor development of interpersonal relationships throughout life.

Touch deprivation can produce developmental delays and deficiencies in children and in extreme cases lead to death.

Elderly who live alone without social or physical contact do not live as long or healthy as their peers who have more social interaction.

Babies need to be cuddled.  Children need to be snuggled.  Teens may enjoy a hug/back rub/wrestling match. Find a way to connect and affirm your child.

Physical touch strengthens emotional bonds; those bonds shapes us for the rest of our lives. 

Look for ways to convey your love, affection, concern, and care to your family members.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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