How “Theraplay” Can Help Cut Your Child’s Risk Of Physical And Mental Health Issues

By Expert Contributor Katie Kovaleski

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A study was just published on the correlation between positive touch with your child and lowered rates of stress for children. Lowering your child’s levels of stress hormones can decrease their future risk for both physical and mental health issues. This type of positive touch is known as "theraplay” (Herald Times Online 2014).

”‘Theraplay’ is a clinical intervention focused on building attachment between parents and children. One of the domains of focus is nurture, which is all about physical touch and showing children that they are worthy of good care.

Some Theraplay activities include: lotioning (which can also be used with older children by placing dots of lotion along the arms or face and slowly rubbing in each dot), creating a secret handshake with your child, giving your child a manicure or pedicure with a focus on physical touch, face painting, thumb wars, mirroring and peek-a-boo. Use your finger to draw letters on your child’s back and see if he can guess the words. Create variations of songs for your child.”

As you can see, many of these activities are built into the way we interact with children already. Being conscious about including them in your daily routines will benefit both you and your child. So, the next time you snuggle a newborn or force your third grader into a hug, feel proud that you are having an impact — on a cellular level!”