Touch is the heart of affection, and that is how you make the child feel a sense of approval, the second need. Alice Miller, the great Polish psychiatrist, advocated that the first year of the child is the most important one. This is the time when the child should be hugged and nurtured with affection. Miller argued that warm maternal body contact is of incalculable value in the formation of a child’s development, while Allan Schore shows that affection has a profound effect on the development of the brain’s amygdala, where memories of emotional events are stored. Professor Jane Simington also argues that touch is essential for psychological and physical development and the maintenance of life. She writes that touch is the earliest form of communication for the human, when the uterine waters soothe the skin of the foetus. It is now known that skin to skin contacts have benefits for both baby and mothers, who have the ability to thermoregulate (maintain homeostasis or internal core temperature) for the baby. So important is touch and affection that it appears to affect the IQ of the human and their capacity to learn. It certainly affects their concentration levels. Recent research has shown that tender stroking helps premature infants to thrive both physically and cognitively.
All the years up to the age of puberty are important for the human, but the younger years, particularly at the toddler stage, especially so. Children shown kindness and affection feel special, feel accepted and loved. As adults they will not be seeking approval, will not see it as imperative to be always nice, and will have good boundaries. Recently I bought a small book called the Little Book of Hugs. A gift to bring comfort and Joy, by Lois Blyth, which I recommend and which I think you will greatly enjoy. A hug is a non-verbal sign of love and protection. A hug is worth a thousand words. You can give your child a hug even if you feel apathetic about it, or even if it is alien to you because you never experienced it in your childhood. You can choose your behaviour.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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