The Importance of Touch and the Developing Child

The Importance of Touch and the Developing Child

Introduction

Physical affection and touch is a vital element of a healthy attachment. Paramount role played by physical affection during the developmental time of almost all animals is well documented. Ponitz et al., (2008) noted that need for cuddled, touch and caress is as fundamental as the need for feeding. The early postnatal handling in rats has been revealed to lead to a decline in glucocorticoid response of the animal to stress (Duhn, 2010). Mothers who groom, lick, and arch-back nurse their pup have been found to have off springs exhibiting lower corticosterone reaction to stressful stimuli (Blackwell, 2000). On addition to this, there are other studies which reveal that particular maternal behaviors like stroking and feeding, can lead to a weak heightened adrenocortical reactions (responses), which are brought about by the maternal deprivation (Feldman, 2011). This underscores the importance of love attachments in the early years of a child development.

The first experience that a baby gets with the external environment takes place through touch. This is an essential sense in the growth of the cognitive and language skills, physical abilities, and social-emotional competency of the child. Physical affection and touch have both short term effect (during the early childhood and infancy) and long-term effect, which suggests the great power that positive and gentle touch has from the birth of a child (Samuelsson & Pramling, 2009). Research carried out in the UK reinforces the importance of the human touch to the development of a healthy brain. The study revealed that showing a loving touch (which is characterized by gentle stroke or caress) increases the ability of the brain to develop a sense of body ownership and helps to create and maintain a healthy sense of the self (Richter, 2015). This shows that just like the instinct of showing……………………

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