“Touch provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human.”
If your child’s love language is Physical Touch, it means physical expressions communicate love to him more than Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, in their book, The 5 Love Languages of Children tell us that in order to keep your child’s emotional tank full, you must speak his primary love language but it is important to use them all.
The body’s physical response to touch and the fact that Jesus healed people by touching them emphasizes to me the importance of touch. Physical Touch is a universal love language and no other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. “The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely.” ~Randi G. Fine.
PHYSICAL ASPECTS AND RESPONSE TO TOUCH
The sense of touch gives our brains information about the environment. It helps us feel physical pain, helps us avoid injury, disease and danger. Touch also signals safety and trust. If we’re upset, it soothes us and it helps us feel emotion. Hugs are a powerful way to demonstrate the language of Physical Touch. In fact, a simple hug can activate oxytocin, the love hormone. Additionally, hugs may protect you against illness, boost your heart health and hugs make you feel happier. Studies done by Harry Harlow have shown that there is a psychological and physical stunting and even death in children who are deprived of physical contact. Infants can receive all the food needed to survive but will still fail to thrive if they don’t receive physical contact. This is why hospitals and orphanages have volunteers hold and cuddle babies who have no one to love them. The physical contact is needed for them to thrive.
The Healing Touch
Jesus performed countless miracles and some of them involved touching. To me, His HEALING TOUCH, emphasizes the importance of touch. I also want to stress that the person being healed had FAITH and believed Jesus could heal them. Let’s look at few of them.
Matthew 9:29 Two blind men were following along behind Jesus asking Him to have mercy on them. They went right into the house with Jesus where He was staying. Jesus asked them if they believed He could make them see. They both answered, “Yes Lord, we do.” They had faith and Jesus TOUCHED THEM.
Mark 1:41-42 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus begging to be healed. He said to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and HE TOUCHED HIM. And the man was healed.
Mark 7:31-36 Someone brought a man with a speech impediment to Jesus and begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus, spitting on his own fingers, touched the man’s tongue and looking up to heaven, he said, “Be opened.” And the man’s tongue was freed and he was able to speak. Why? Because of his faith and because Jesus TOUCHED HIM.
Luke 8:43-48 Jesus was on his way to heal a man’s daughter and as usual, there was a crowd around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for 12 years with constant bleeding. She went up behind Jesus and TOUCHED the fringe of his robe and she was immediately healed, the bleeding stopped.
Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Despite the crowd, Jesus knew that someone had deliberately TOUCHED Him. The lady explained why she touched him. And Jesus said that her faith had made her whole.
Luke 18: 15-17 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could TOUCH them. But, when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering Jesus.
But Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” He took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and he blessed them. HE TOUCHED THEM!
Doesn’t it stand to reason then that Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices?
The Love Language of Physical Touch
Unfortunately, there is a sick, dark side to Physical Touch…and that is the inappropriate touch. Parents you MUST teach children that all touches are not good. Please, have this discussion with your child. It is needed in today’s world.
Margaret Atwood is right, she said, “Touch comes before sight, and before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it ALWAYS tells the truth.” Teach your child to know the TRUTH in a touch.
Think back to your childhood. Did your parents say, “I love you”? Did they hug you? How did you know they loved you? Was it just because they made sure you were fed, clothed and all of your other need were met?
I knew that I was loved because my Father, Mother and my Grandmother “spoke” each of the love languages to me. My primary love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time. I scored the same on both. Interestingly enough, the fondest memories I have as a child are the times we spent as a family watching Westerns. Every Friday night we sat around watching TV and eating snacks my mom made. To this day, I love Westerns and enjoy them even more when my husband or one of our kids watch them with me. Another fond memory is sitting with my Grandmother during a thunderstorm. During a thunderstorm everything was turned off and we had to sit quietly. My Grandmother and I would sit and watch the weeping willow tree in our front yard sway back and forth. Just sitting with her, watching that huge weeping willow tree sway back and forth spoke my love language…quality time. I don’t remember hearing the words, “I love you” but they probably were spoken. The important thing is, I knew I was loved because my primary love language was spoken and ALL the other love languages were met.
As you might imagine, hugs and kisses are the usual and most common way to speak the love language of Physical Touch. If you didn’t receive a lot of hugs growing up, you might feel awkward hugging your children. And if you do, I suggest you do what is needed to start hugging your child. But, if this is you, while you are adjusting to this new way of speaking your child’s primary love language, there are other ways to show love through Physical Touch.
Other ways to meet your child’s Physical Touch need (you can find a list of needs in the book The 5 Love Languages of Children:
1. Hold hands
2. A gentle pat on the back or smoothing the hair down
3. Hold your child or sit close when watching TV
4. Read your child a book and let him or her sit on your lap.
6. High five
In their book, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell stress the importance of avoiding corporal punishment and threats with this child. They suggest using other means of discipline for a child whose primary love language is Physical touch.
Not speaking your child’s Primary love language is like eating just one type of vegetable. At some point, your body will miss certain nutrients and you will start to crave other foods. Likewise, if you don’t include your child’s primary love language, he or she will crave it and may even start to act out.
Remember, your child needs you to love him/her using ALL of the love languages. But, if Physical Touch is his primary language, you want to make sure it is included and used in your tool bag of love.