At 3:00AM this morning I heard my two year old daughter whimpering in her sleep and I knew a cry would follow shortly. I quietly stepped into her room and placed my hand on her back. She relaxed and drifted back to a peaceful sleep. Amazing what a simple touch can do.
Children who have been adopted have most likely been deprived of nurturing touch at some point in their lives. Even a newborn taken home from the hospital at two days old can be deprived of touch. At the Empowered to Connect Conference I recently attended in Nashville, TN, Dr. Karyn Purvis spoke of the importance of nurturing touch including infant massage.
Massage promotes bonding and enhances attachment and trust; all vital elements for a newly adopted child. Massage also helps to regulate the function of the central nervous system. Healthy nurturing touch elevates neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which enhance feelings of contentment and joy. At the same time, this touch lowers chemicals, such as cortisol, which are associated with stress, anxiety, and fear.
Infants wiggle, and toddlers run, but even fitting in 3 minutes of massage time can enhance your connection with your child. The best time to massage your baby is when they are relaxed, content, or curious. Not when they are sleepy, hungry, or crying. This can be a fun, relaxing time where you can connect with your child by telling them how special they are and valuing eye contact. As your child gets older, massage can be part of their bedtime rituals. And one day, if you continue to make massage a part of a child’s routine, they just might return the favor and massage your weary parental shoulders.
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