There’s nothing more gratifying than holding your children in your arms or planting kisses on their irresistible cheeks. But their desire for physical affection changes as they grow older, and it’s often difficult to know how and when to reach out. Below, some hints on staying close through the years.
Babies and Toddlers
Your gentle touch shows your child that she’s loved. Do what comes naturally. Cuddle her during feedings, walk your fingers up her tummy, play This Little Piggy with her toes.
Preschool to Age Five
Your touch equals reassurance as your child faces the world. A hug and kiss as you drop him off at preschool show him you’re there for him even when you’re not nearby.
Ages Six to 12
As kids become peer-conscious, they may recoil from physical contact, especially when they’re with friends. If your child shrinks away when you hug her in public, then don’t. Save it for when you’re in private. You may have to settle for a quick hug or shoulder pat — or wait for your child to make the first move. But you can set a good example by letting her see Mom and Dad touch with affection.
Ages 13 to 18
In adolescence, separation is the name of the game. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on physical affection. Try offering a good-night hug or ruffling your child’s hair as he passes you in the hall. If he flinches, give it a rest. In time you may be pleasantly surprised: The child who mopes along behind you at the mall may suddenly give you a big hug.
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