From the weekly archive “Breakthrough”. Bożena Zaor, Clinical Psychologist from the District Hospital in Chrzanów explains how important someone else’s touch is to us – at every stage of our lives.
Bozena Zaur: The most developed sense at birth is the sense of touch. With the help of touch, the newborn begins to explore the world and build closeness with its parents. The skin of a newborn is thinner than that of an adult, so it is also very sensitive to any signals from the external environment. On the one hand, normal body heat is important, and on the other – a sense of security. I think cuddling, regardless of age, gives us a sense of security.
In recent years, close-up parenting has been fashionable. It is recommended to wear the baby in a sling instead of a stroller. Why is cuddling with mom or dad so important?
We return to what is natural and instinctive more and more. It must be remembered that the smaller the child, the less contact he has with the world, the greater the need for closeness and pregnancy. How many situations in which a small child does not want to sleep, is anxious, calms down at the parent’s hand. In some eastern cultures, the infant is dressed constantly for the first few months of his life. Parents also emphasize the aspect of comfort: we have the child with us and at the same time great freedom of movement. Of course, before deciding on such a solution, it is worth learning how to use covers and levers safely.
Children grow up. A teen no longer wants to cuddle like a few years old.
Indeed, there are developmental periods when cuddling becomes ‘awkward’, but I firmly believe that cuddling does not arise from it. Start. It is also a cultural issue, for example in American society the proverb “hug” is the order of the day. In our culture, we are “less expressive” about the matter.
How then do we support young people by touch?
I think that when we have good contact with a child, he or she likes to be hugged anyway, no matter their age – it’s a nonverbal message that expresses concern, concern, and support. And the need for attention is important for the upbringing of a young man’s personality. We hug older children more often, at home, preferably when no one is seeing them. But like I said, hugs never get out of you.
Is the character formation of people who are often hugged and who have grown up “in the cold” different?
Modeling behavior has a huge impact on how we function in adulthood: on our behavior, our perception of reality, the experience of emotions, and the creation of relationships.
We learn that cuddling is associated with another person’s care, empathy, and feelings of closeness and support. However, I’m not a supporter of the popular claim that if we don’t get enough love and care in our lives, we won’t be able to show it ourselves later. Yes, it is difficult and requires a lot of self-awareness and changing attitudes, but let’s remember that by entering into different personal relationships, we learn throughout our lives. Show feelings also in a non-verbal way.
How do adults learn to show affection?
By staying in close emotional relationships, we learn that each of us has a different way of reacting, thinking, and showing feelings. Often in these close relationships we open ourselves up to our world of experiences. It is important to spend time together, talk and cooperate in overcoming various difficulties. Getting to know yourself and the other person creates closeness.
What role do hugs play in the era of the Corona virus?
– Of course, safety at present is very important and you should pay special attention to it, but cuddling with loved ones with whom we communicate constantly is not forbidden. Perhaps this also gives us strength in these difficult times: we limit social contacts, but strengthen the close relationships we are in.
And what about the elderly, especially now, who are isolated from others?
Older people need attention, attention and care, which we can show them in different ways, for example through conversation or help with daily activities. And if we are only sure, epidemiologically, that hugs will be safe for our loved ones and the elderly, then yes: hugs or handshakes are important to them. Perhaps even now more important than ever.
Can you replace the hug with something?
Hugging is a form of nonverbal communication. Other things include, for example, handshakes and facial expressions. Now, when we wear masks in public, we can see if someone is cheerful or irritable, and look them in the eyes. We can show concern, concern, and affection in different ways: by talking (even over the phone), being kind, helping another person, and a hug are simply an expression of closeness.
Hack Archive No. 04/2021