What kind of physical contact do most parents use with their child? It seems obvious, doesn’t it? A hug. We hug our child because we love them and we hope they feel this love. However, what if I told you that there is other physical contact that can be even more powerful in terms of showing our kids we love them?

I was at the park recently and was watching the most incredible display of love between a father and son. This father had the “ physical contact thing” right, probably without even realizing it. Frequently, this father’s son would run up to tell him something. It was obvious that their was a strong affectional bond between them. As they talked, their eye contact was direct without any hesitation. And their communication included a lot of physical contact, especially when something funny was said.

The father would frequently lay his hand on his son’s arm, or put his arm around his son’s shoulder and sometimes lovingly slap him on the knee. Occasionally, he would pat him on the back or pull his son toward him. It was completely clear that this father and son had a loving, respectful relationship.

Funny enough, studies show that most busy parents tend to only touch their children when helping them dress, undress, brush their teeth or get in and out of the car. It’s not an intentional thing to withhold the gentler, more loving physical contact, it’s just the busyness of life that makes parents tend to forget.

When I was a school teacher, I always made a point of using physical touch. This was actually something I began when I was trying to turn around a tremendously difficult class. I had been using some discipline techniques I learned in University but they weren’t working. In total despair, after a humiliating episode in the classroom, I sat down and thoughtfully laid out how I wanted the classroom to feel, the relationship I wanted to have with the students and what I could do consistently to make my desires come true. One of the things I implemented the very next day was appropriate physical contact.

Soon, I began to develop a fantastic relationship with the students. The comment I received after that year and every year after that was, “Mrs. Kurt is stern, but wow, she loves us SO much.” All of the letters I received from my students mentioned how I made them feel, how happy they felt that year, and how cared for, supported, and loved they felt. It was common to read messages such as, “You were more than my teacher, Mrs. Kurt, you....”

I believe that parents must convey this feeling of love alongside their guidance and discipline; I use it with my own children and see the same results as I did in the classroom (although even more special and lovely!). It only takes being aware of what is needed and a dedication to doing it consistently so that it comes naturally. With this in place, our children’s emotional tanks will be filled up a little more each day.

Physical contact can easily be incorporated into our everyday dealings with our kids; yes, even preteen or teen boys!

Here are some types of loving, appropriate touch that you can incorporate:

1.) Stroke of the cheek
2.) Tousle of the hair
3.) Quick rub on the back
4.) Hand holding
5.) Giving a “High-Five”
6.) Touch on the arm
7.) Hand on their knee while watching TV or a movie

Now that we’ve covered how important eye and physical contact are we’ll move on to Part 3 in next week’s ezine, showing love through “ Focused Attention” . (And I’m not talking about spending hours of one-on-one time with your child).

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.