Focus On Family: Children Need Affection

We love our children deeply, in a way that is difficult to measure.  Much of our time is spent caring for them, thinking of them, teaching them, and helping them grow.  Since we invest so much of our time, thoughts and caring in our children, most parents would probably say, “Of course my child knows I love him/her.”  But how often do we really express our love and affection to our children?

This month, I’ll focus on one important way of expressing love for our children: appropriate physical affection.

A parent can show affection to their child in many ways, including

  • kisses
  • hugs
  • cuddling together on the couch
  • holding hands when out together
  • rubbing their back while watching TV
  • dancing together
  • brushing their hair
  • snuggling under a blanket as you read to them
  • holding them securely when they feel tired or overwhelmed
  • stroking their cheek when you tell them you love them.

Although it’s common in our culture for babies to get a lot of physical affection like holding, many of us stop expressing our love in this manner as our children grow.  It’s important to realize, however, that all children need affection, even teens and adult children.

It goes without saying that these physical expressions of love must be appropriate, non-sexual touches which both you and your child feel comfortable with.  Ask your child first, before you reach out to touch them, “Can I give you a hug?”  It shows your child that you respect them and teaches them that it’s okay to say “no” if someone asks to touch them.  A child’s ability to say no will be extremely valuable should they come across someone who might not be respectful of their rights.

There may be times when your child says “no” to your offer of affection, and that’s okay.  It’s likely that this is just how they’re feeling at that particular moment, rather than a personal rejection.  Just ask again another time.  Your child may surprise you the next time and say “yes”.  Your child may even ask you if you’d like a hug.  This can be one of the sweetest rewards of parenting: when you’ve built a loving connection and your child reaches out to express love to you.

To schedule an appointment to learn more about how feeling gratitude for your partner can greatly improve your relationship, call 908-246-3074 or email

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