Until what age can you give a massage to your child?

Until what age can you give a massage to your child?

The benefits of touch

A consented, pleasant touch, received with pleasure has undeniable effects on anxiety, stress reduction, the feeling of pleasure. The results of numerous studies, which have highlighted the benefits of touch, which can be boosting for the immune effect, have made it possible to establish the Kangaroo method, (which consists of putting the premature infant skin against skin with his parent), and more broadly to reintroduce this notion of touch-hug in our Western society which is not used to this kind of mores. Reintroducing into our habits thanks to science the massages that we had in a way abandoned, then comes to collide with the information we have receiveds to date and our performances. From now on, we try to initiate young parents to massage their infants, by offering them training, etc. Until what age can you massage your child? is therefore a legitimate question for any young parent who himself did not receive many massages as a child. The question arises all the more in a social context where the accent is placed on violence, abuse, the issue of consent and privacy. How to reintroduce parent-child touch, with this social pressure?

Massaging a baby or child

Massaging a newborn or a baby who is not yet aware of his body, from head to toe, with oil, in a warm environment, has many benefits (relief of tensions linked to the position in utero , stimulation of motor skills, etc.). When you grow up, the interest of the massage is no longer the same and the context of care is more and more restricted. Around the age of 2 and a half/3 years, the child begins to ask questions about sex, he begins to discover the sexual zones. With an older child whose body naturally becomes more and more sexualized, we will begin to circumscribe, to gradually restrict the areas of the body that can be affected, such as nudity during massage. We also communicate more implicitly, we can explain to the child that there are much more intimate and sensitive areas that we don’t touch. You cannot neglect the social dimension with a bigger child, the way you treat your body can be much more sources of intrusion. But the body contains many areas that can be massaged easily without having to undress the child.

Questioning yourself as a parent

Some adults may have a complicated history with touch for a variety of reasons. They may have been touched intrusively themselves, their bodies abused, or they may not have been touched enough. etc It’s important not to overlook your own emotional state as a parent. A good parent listens to what he can communicate to his child non-verbally. If you feel excited, sad, uncomfortable, embarrassed, or in any other state not conducive to massaging your child, it is best not to do so and to talk about your emotions with those around you, your spouse, to not to be left alone with painful or unpleasant things. It is not necessarily a question of starting therapy, but it is worth questioning your own history of touch. We can have somewhat blurred landmarks if in our culture or familytouching was taboo.

Is there a maximum age for a massage?

There is no age limit for parent-child massage, we rather speak of a adaptation to the bodily intimacy of the other. We can absolutely give a massage, especially in a context of stress or comfort, for example shoulders or trapezoids to a adult by own parent, also adult ! Whatever the age, the massage must be respectful and centered on the needs of the child. Different parameters must also be taken into account: if the child’s body is naked, half-naked, if the door is closed, etc. The question of the context is very important, because it will make it possible to be able to interpret the gesture, intrusive or caring. Age, nudity, context, way of touching (tonic or caressing), caring or self-centered… It is worth being careful about all these criteria, because there is a strong risk/benefit ratio. Being a parent means constantly questioning ourselves, especially when we are in the gray zone (which has no black or white answer). The issue is complex and worth reviewing these nuances and exceptions.

Massaging your child: a need for the parent or the child?

Once again, it is a question of asking the right questions to determine the interest of the massage. “When I massage my child, am I focused on myself, am I doing it to make myself feel good or rather taking into account the emotional state of my child?“, “Is it really an attentive touch to the other and to their needs?”, “Do I massage my child, because I would have liked my parents to provide me with such care when I was a child? “. You have to be clear about your own emotional state.

Father-daughter, father-son, mother-son, mother-daughter massage: what difference does it make?

The issues may be different depending on the gender. If the context is clear for you, you still have to remain vigilant because it may not be for a teenage girl, for example, who finds her back bare. It’s important to keep asking yourself what we implicitly manifest as parents, the state in which we find ourselves.

What is the difference between a hug and a massage?

During a hug, we remain fully clothed, which therefore does not raise all these ambiguous questions. In addition, a hug is often spontaneous, especially in a moment of comfort when the other expresses stress and/or sadness. Massage also has these effects, but its decision is more structured.

If you don’t feel like massaging your child, you can clearly explain things to him “A massage remains something personal and intimate. You’re starting to get a little big now” and questioning his need. Is this a way for him to ask you for a special moment with you? Does he need to be comforted? It is then possible to meet his need other than by a massage or massage on the clothes of the body areas that seem acceptable to us. If he asks you for a massage on particular areas of his body, his buttocks for example, it is important to refuse while asking why that part of the body specifically. The answer may be very simple (because he has body aches), but it may also reveal something that may have interject him, sexual violence in particular (“a friend touched my buttocks at school, I don’t understand why, it doesn’t fit with what I’ve learned so far”). Hence the importance of talking to each other and asking the question!

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