By Thea Blair
I first noticed how effective touch was in resolving children’s conflicts and emotional issues during the 14 years I taught a mixed age pre-school in my home. It began as a way to manage the behavior of toddlers who just could not get along with their peers or were having a “melt-down.” My intuition told me that they were out of their skill range: they were overwhelmed or over-stimulated. I would hold them over my heart as if they were infants and discovered this was much more effective than any form of “time out.” Later, I saw miraculous results using other forms of gentle touch with older children, too. I began experimenting with either comforting or playful touch. Sometimes I would put a hand on the shoulders of two children having a conflict, sometimes I would hold a child who was sad or angry. Sometimes I would offer them imaginative back massage stories or bounce them on my knee. It was during this time that I began to adapt verses and songs into massage routines. I was amazed at the results: my caring touch was resolving difficult situations much faster and easier than verbal communication alone.