In a split second, happiness turned into agony.
My son’s foot found the family jewels during a run-of-the-mill wrestling match. It was not the first time and certainly will not be the last.
I call a time-out and roll to the edge of the living room and curl up like a baby. A few deep breaths and before I know it, my son is giving me a hug and apologizing. Only a few words are needed to reassure him I will be OK and know it was an accident. I shake it off and get back in the ring.
Sound familiar? Why do kids find the most vulnerable parts of our bodies to accidentally hit, kick, and poke? Why do we subject ourselves to non-accidental hitting, kicking and poking (also known as roughhousing)?
Bonding. Not much different than a hug, kiss or reassuring touch.
My son loves to cuddle and watch TV. He wants his back scratched at bedtime. He will snuggle up while I read a book to him and just as quickly body-slam me and beg to wrestle.
He does this because touch makes connections and bonds. We have all read stories about babies in orphanages who do not receive adequate touch from adults suffering from physical ailments, suppressed neurodevelopment, and emotional problems.
We also know, as men, women tend to be better at touch. You may be an outlier, but, in general, men have room to improve in this area.
So, does your kid respond to touch? Does your kid pester you, poke you, prod you? Could he be looking for physical contact or physical reassurance?
Take a moment to consider the ways you engage in physical touch with your kid. It could be roughhousing, tickling, or hugging. It could be none of those.
Again, I commend to you Dr. Gary Chapman’s book – The Five Love Languages of Children – which explores the subject of physical touch and even provides an assessment tool to discover how highly it ranks for your kid. As an aside, if you use the above link to order the book, I will receive a small portion of the sale which helps to offset the cost of running this blog…and is much appreciated!
Over the next few days, pay attention to how you use physical touch with your kid. Does a hug, kiss on the head or a tickle fight change how you interact, improve his mood, or strengthen your relationship? Do you struggle with even remembering to show physical affection to your kid? Do you fall into the category of guy who just wishes there was a woman around to do the hugging and cuddling?
When mom is not around on a consistent basis to supply physical touch to your kid, you need to fill those shoes.
What benefit have you found when you show affection or engage in physical touch with your kid?