Habitot Children's Museum

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MKL, Jr. Day, January 17.

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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
12 Things Great Parents Do:
Practice Positive Touch

Loving our children comes naturally, but the art of parenting is a skill, and like any other skill it must be learned and practiced mindfully. Part of Habitot’s commitment to our community is to support parents in the crucial and precious task of raising young children.

For 2010-2011 we are expanding on parenting wisdom from local psychotherapist and parent coach Dr. Erica Reischer who has composed a list of “10 Things Great Parents Do.” We are adding two “great things” or our own and each month we’ll share research and our observations of tens of thousands of visiting families to illustrate how using the “great things” list will for work you and your child.

This month’s topic: Practice Positive Touch. Positive touch (e.g. hugs, loving pats, cuddles) is absolutely critical to kids’ development.

A child’s first and most important teacher is his sense of touch. It is the first sense he develops in the womb, beginning to develop at only eight weeks. Babies need touch to survive and grow, and this need remains with us throughout our lives. The benefits of touch to a person's health are phenomenal. Touch can reassure, relax and comfort. It reduces depression, anxiety, stress and physical pain, promotes healing, and offers parents a calming way to “connect” with their child.

Research has found that positive touch is crucial to positive development of personality and physical and mental health. In addition, children who get more positive touch and affection during infancy turn out to be kinder, more intelligent and more empathic towards others. And let’s not forget that positive touch is great for you as a parent too!

Here are some tips on using natural consequences:

    • Hugs are not just for saying hello and goodbye. Give your child hugs at random times throughout the day to remind her how loved she is.
    • Hold hands when you are out on walk, dance together, play tickle games. There are many ways to incorporate touch into everyday activities.
    • Story time provides a wonderful opportunity to cuddle while enjoying your child’s favorite book.
    • Rest time is the most natural time to incorporate nurturing positive touch. Help your child relax by stroking, patting or massaging her back, shoulders or feet.
    • Remember that temperament can be a factor in how much or what kind of physical touch your child needs. While one child may feel he needs to hold his mother tight for comfort, another may be just fine with a quick high-five. Staying attuned to your child’s particular needs will help him get the right kind of touch.
    • Positive touch is great for you as a parent as well! Don’t underestimate your own need for healthy positive touch for stress reduction, rejuvenation and bonding.

To see the complete list of “10 Things Great Parents Do” or to learn more about Dr. Erica Reischer, please visit her website at www.DrEricaR.com. You can also get a hard copy of the handout in the purple parenting cart in the museum.

Parenting Resources

Narvaez, Darcia Ph.D. Are you or your child on a starvation diet? 2010. Psychology Today Web Site: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201009/are-you-or-your-child-starvation-diet

Szalavitz, Maia. Why Spoiled Babies Grow Up to Be Smarter, Kinder Kids. Time Magazine. September 29, 2010

Spicer, Susan. The Importance of Touch. Today’s Parent. January, 2010.

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