Long before children fully develop their sense of hearing, sight, or taste, they have developed the sense of touch. That sense continues to be one of the most vital parts of a child’s healthy growth and development.
For centuries, experts have been using the powerful benefits of massage to instil a sense of trust and security in children, promoting healthy development. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine emphasizes that children thrive on physical contact, because, as they say, “A touch can convey more than a thousand words.”
Children’s massage is an excellent way for parents to work to promote their children’s health, wellness, and general happiness. There are four important ways that massage feeds a growing child.
- Security and Trust
In 2010, the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Centre reported that many studies indicate a connection between safety and trust and warm touches. For many children, these basic touches sent a signal communicating that trust. Physiologically, it activates the child’s vagus nerve, a nerve which communicates sensory information to the brain. When that nerve is activated, any cardiovascular stress in the child is greatly reduced. The body’s “compassionate response” is also activated. It’s one of the best and easiest ways for parents to convey security and trust to their child, especially very young children.
- Reduction of Anxiety or Stress
Adults are not the only ones who deal with stress and anxiety. It is also extremely common in children, even young ones. Massage can create and enhance a relaxed state that alleviates anxiety and makes stress more manageable. A University of Miami study discovered that when child psychiatric patients were treated with massage, their depression and anxiety was greatly reduced. These patients were given daily half-hour back massages for five days. After those five days, the children had much lower levels of cortisol, commonly called the “stress hormone.” Any child who struggles with anxiety or depression can benefit from massage therapy.
- Improved Behaviour and Mood
Medication is often used to treat behaviour disorders such as ADHD, but these medications can cause familial strain for many reasons. Massage therapy can be used as an alternative solution for those who struggle with the cost and potential side effects of medication. The journal “Adolescence” quotes a study that indicates teenagers with ADHD were able to control their disorder much more easily after receiving a series of massage treatments. They reported being happier, more focused, and less fidgety than they had been previously. In a time when many parents are concerned about overmedicating, using massage therapy to control behavioural or mood disorders is an extremely viable solution.
- Improved Communication
This one may sound confusing. After all, how can touching someone else improve their communication? Don’t forget, though, how much communication happens through body language and touch every day. A gentle touch on the arm means something very different than a harsh push or a playful tickle. The University of California, Berkeley, released report that indicated many emotions, like love, compassion, and gratitude, are actually better sensed through touch than through verbal communication. Touch can be a powerful way to communicate love to children, and massage is one way to do that. Often, children who have difficulties with verbal communication find it much easier to communicate with those around them through touch. Massage therapy gives them the tools to do that and teaches them how to communicate love through touch and receive love communicated through touch.
These are just four of the studied benefits of massage for children. There are many more theories of how massage can improve children’s growth and development that are still being tested and studied. Parents who want to improve their children’s health or well-being can look into massage therapy as an option to help manage disorders, depression, or other concerns.
Sometimes there are no massage therapists nearby that parents feel comfortable with, or perhaps travelling with their child to appointments is difficult. In this situation, it may be very beneficial for the parents to take a massage course to learn how to do some of the massage work on their own. It’s easy for anyone to learn at least the basics of what makes a good massage. Parents can spend some time discovering the fundamentals of massage treatment and then use that knowledge to treat their children to anxiety-decreasing, trust-building massages on a daily basis.
Children’s massage is a great way for parents to reach out to their young children, especially those who have been deemed “difficult.” This extra level of touch can bring parent and child much closer together and greatly improve the child’s growth and development. Find a local massage course today to find out how you can begin incorporating this into your children’s lives.