The Importance of Touch and Teens

Unfortunately, as our teens get older, there is a tendency for them to get less affectionate with us and for us to forget to be affectionate with them. OK - I admit, sometimes affection is the last thing we are feeling toward our teen after a long day, but sometimes I think we just forget. In addition, as adults, there seems to be a tendency to receive less and less touch, and we may associate touch only with sexuality, forgetting how important human touch is to overall well-being.

We all need human touch, and it has been used for centuries to help heal people - emotionally and physically. We have all seen the bumper stickers, "Have you hugged your child today?" Which is a good reminder. As teens grow, we have to consciously find ways to connect with them, and touch them in ways that feel good to them and are appropriate.

A hug and a kiss at school drop off is probably not going to go over very well, but if you offer the kiss as they leave the house, it might work. Bedtime is another great time to share a cup of tea, talk, cuddle and just give them a hug - everyone is more receptive when tired and not in a hurry. If touch is hard to integrate into your relationship with your teen, you can try giving him or her a facial, or rubbing their feet, hands, neck, or back.

Another option is learning about Reiki (pronounced ray-key), which is a Japanese form of healing that is becoming popular worldwide. Reiki involves the transfer of energy from one person to another to enhance the body's natural ability to heal itself through the balancing of energy. This might sound a little loose, but basically, it is a laying of hands upon another person and it can bring about deep relaxation and make people feel energized. The idea is that the person being touched will draw energy from the person touching them.

If you realize you are not touching your teen - you can introduce the idea of adding more touch into your relationship by acknowledging that you feel less connected and want a way to spend more time touching him or her, and helping them feel loved. You can also tell them you read about Reiki and want to try just laying your hands on their shoulders or head for 5 minutes while they study or watch TV - then ask if they feel any better. If you both take slow deep breaths, it is likely to make you both feel better.

Happy touching!

Photo credit: mahalie

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