From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Touch: Communication or Power?

Whenever a person touches another person, they communicate nonverbally. Touch is a statement about the closeness or distance, and power hierarchy between people. Although touch is a basic human need, it must be used wisely. Consider the following thoughts:

As a general rule, children should not be touched anywhere that a bathing suit covers once they are out of diapers. Pre-adolescents and teenagers are especially insecure about their growing bodies and do not want to be cuddled in the way they were as children. Let them set the limits by allowing them to hug you or respecting their desire not to.

Adolescents learn to say "no" at home! Most of us can recall having to kiss or hug a relative who pinched us or smelled funny. Children appreciate when you keep your hands off, and allow them the decision of whether they wish to be affectionate. If our children can't set limits with us, how will they learn to set limits out in the rest of the world. This is another important tool we need to give them during the years we get to serve as their parents.

ęCopyright, 1994, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated September 19, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.