A simple guide to massage your child in 3 steps
„I miss my friends“ is something I often hear from my daughter these days. It’s been almost six weeks with no contact to her classmates. Well… if you don’t count the two meetings over Zoom, which left her even more sad and frustrated. I observed how difficult it is for her, to talk about herself in those video conferences. Although she’s usually quite happy and joyful, there is a lot of sadness and uncertainty that she’s facing right now.
While we as adults are trying to deal with this new situation day by day, it is important not to forget how challenging this time is for our kids. I believe that we have to find ways, to create an atmosphere of openness and space, so that our children can explore what is happening inside of them. One of the most wonderful opportunities to do that, is through touch. Simple and mindful touch. Thanks to this experience children can learn to connect to their body, their emotions and needs. This is not a one time benefit, but a skill for life.
Would you like to find out more about it? Here are 3 tips how you can create a meaningful connection and support your child’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
1.) Find a positive space
Before you start massaging your child, make sure you are in a positive mood. It won’t work well if you’re worried or stressed. Kids pick up the emotional state of their parents very easily, so it’s good to be mindful about that. Make yourself comfortable and relax. If you’re finding it hard to come down, you can try a few breathing exercises in advance. This will help you to arrive in the present moment.
Find a quiet place where you create a pleasant atmosphere. You can use some blankets and cushions or massage your child as they lie on a bed or sofa. If you like, you can put on some gentle music. Now imagine, you have all the time in the world and try not to rush. In fact all you need is anything from 5 to 20 minutes. Since children are very receptive to touch, short sessions provide plenty of stimulus for their body and mind. It’s better not to keep them too long, but regular.
2.) Keep it simple
The basis of connecting to your child during massage is your open heart and the joy of being together. That’s for me the key of a mindful connection. Keep it simple and natural. There is nothing you need to know about massage techniques, joints, muscles or meridians. Use touch as a way to cultivate listening and let yourself be guided by your child. I encourage you to keep communicating throughout the session. Make sure to make pauses from time to time. Ask how your child is perceiving it, what they like or enjoy the most and then adjust the touch based on their feedback.
If you’re unsure how to start, a good idea would be to massage the back first. Your child can lie on the belly and you can move gently to the legs and feet. Afterwards you can turn to the front side, touching the belly, arms, legs, fingers, toes.
3.) Make it playful
If it feels right for you, you can add some elements of play to your massage. Most of the children will love it, although it might depend on their age as well.
I usually offer different rhythms and pressures, so that my child has the possibility to explore what they like the best. Sometimes I integrate storytelling or draw words or symbols on their back. What works really well with smaller kids is, when you introduce some characters, like animals that play a certain role. For example you can walk down the child’s leg like as lion, a mouse or a butterfly. This will obviously feel completely different and connect to your child’s imagination.
What I also love doing, is to switch roles. I then allow my kids to give a short massage to me. This is always great fun! In addition to that it teaches them what is means to be offering touch and about personal boundaries. It’s so wonderful to feel the gentle touch of those litte hands stroking my head with so much care and love. Try it out, I’m sure it will be a good experience!
I’ve been massaging my kids since they were very small, but the last six weeks of living in times of the Corona virus, have opened up a new dimension for me. It has been and still is a great way to stay connected to them, to allow for moments of relaxation and calmness.
We all need touch. In times of crisis and uncertainty even more. The other day, when I was massaging my daughter in the evening, and she was almost falling asleep, she suddenly said something out of the blue, that amazed me. „Mommy, I don’t like to see my friends on screen. That is so strange! I like my friends to be real“. There she was, lying in this safe space, relaxing into her body and discovering answers that are deep inside of her. What a joy to be able to witness that.