Emotional Connection with Children through Physical Closeness – 17 Jan 11


Last week I wrote about raising children and teenagers and I got a lot of feedback as it is obviously a topic that every mother and father has something to say about. I liked the feedback of one of my friends on facebook, Annan Boodram. He said: “Speaking from experience, Swami Ji, the first step is making an emotive connection. Once that connection is established you can begin to win their trust and then they make you their confidante.”

I fully agree with these words and I believe that an emotional connection is necessary in every relation. Especially with children it is easy to have this emotional connection because they understand the language of emotions better than the language of intellect. If you talk to them with intelligent words, definitions and facts, they won’t understand you. If you reach out to them with love and happiness, you establish an emotional bridge in between you and them.

The base for strengthening this emotional connection however is physical closeness. For any close emotional relation, I can only repeat it again and again, you need to be close physically. And then it doesn’t matter whether this child is your own child or someone else’s child, with physical closeness you create an emotional connection and you feel love and trust in between each other.

We experience this here often with children who come to the Ashram and stay for longer. Additionally I believe every kindergarten teacher and primary school teacher can confirm this theory. You spend a lot of time with a group of children, you play with them, you teach them, sometimes you have to be serious and scold them, too. At the end of one year however you realize that you developed a personal bond to these children whom you had not even known one year ago. You spent several hours nearly each day with them and thus have an emotional connection with them. They developed trust in you and many early school teachers and kindergarten teachers are remembered a whole life long.

25 Replies to “Emotional Connection with Children through Physical Closeness – 17 Jan 11”

  1. I love that children understand the language of emotion better than that of intellect. This is a characteristic of children that I am always learning from. Emotions move through them, in and out, quickly and without over thinking. I strive to be that healthy.

  2. Thanks for sharing that insightful comment and your own thoughts. I couldn’t agree with you more and even if I didn’t agree I always find so many lessons in what you are saying Swami Ji. Cheers!

  3. It’s funny. The teachers that I remember from grade school did dish out a few hugs here and there. Haha. I remember recognizing their openness and what I then interpreted as loving heart and feeling safe with them because of it. The professors I remember from University are the ones who challenged me the most and wouldn’t let a single comment or proclamation go unchecked; The ones who would demand that you digest a few hundred pages of thick reading a night and still if I didn’t feel I could trust them I would drop their class.

  4. I’m so curious about your understanding of physical closeness Swami Ji. It is not that I think that I’ve had an experience to the contrary, I’ve just really never thought about that as a necessary part of a relationship in any capacity. I want to know more. I hope I read more about this in the future.

  5. Wise words Swami Ji. I work in Manhattan and don’t have a lot of experience with children but one of my coworkers is a mother and brings her 4 year old to the office for a brief time after he is let out of school. I watched my friend Sharon connect with him over the last few weeks. It was stunning to see the moment where this child suddenly let her in. Nothing that I noticed had changed on her part, but after weeks of shyness and mistrust this child suddenly started smiling when Sharon would kneel down to play with him or talk to him. And then he started talking, saying so many things, giving his love and attention as if he had known Sharon all of his life. It was beautiful. It overwhelmed me to think about that child’s selfless love and abundant trust. I think what you have written is so spot on it is also overwhelming for me. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I’m really glad that children don’t understand the language of intellect. It is wonderful. And I am really glad that adults do understand the language of intellect. This is also wonderful. Both seem so necessary.

  7. I think your friend is right. I lived with both parents my whole life but my mother made an emotive connection with me and my dad didn’t, so from my earliest memories I remember feeling very different about her.

  8. It is so sweet to see a child establish a base of trust with another adult. As adults maybe many of us feel flawed or awkward. With a child it doesn’t matter to them, it only matters if you are good to them.

  9. about physical closeness. This has been a big part of my life, closeness or lack of closeness physically. I have to touch almost constantly, it is how I experience the world. I touch and play with every surface of the things around me- the books I’m reading, the pen I’m holding, the pants I’m wearing. For me it has always been a battle to not touch people this way. It is hard for me to communicate and understand from distance. Not touching people is something I have to tell myself everyday. My mom has a theory about my need to touch things, when I was about a week old I had an illness and had to be in the hospital inside an incubator without human contact for 8 days. She thinks maybe that bred in me the need to reach out. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that even now- physical closeness and attention plays a bi role in my life.

  10. Tanya:You know, my father died when I was 32. My mom was about fifty then. She never remarried. When I got older I finally had the guts to ask her: what is the hardest part of being alone? She said the hardest part for her is that she is never touched. So yes, I think this can also be important for adults. Though we tend to be much choosier about who we receive this touch from!

  11. I know a girl named Allison and some of her earliest memories are of her hating being touched and fighting to get out of her mother’s arms. She remembers being very young and trying to attack her mother for touching her. Her mom didn’t abuse her physically, she just didn’t like being smothered and she could sense this from a very young age. Again I just feel that making yourself healthy and coming to your children with balance is what your strongest focus should be on. You should touch children. Don’t neglect them. Don’t smother them because though they are small they are also their own people. Balance.

  12. I am so curious about any science around touch. I feel like my skin is really sensitive to any kind of stimulus- the wind, the rain, my clothing, and certainly touch from another human. There is no way to explain how affective any kind of pressure on my skin. That it why I love the wind, that light pressure sends so much electricity through me. I can’t imagine what I was like when I was a child. So, this is very curious for me. But also… There a several people I know (and respect!) that just can’t stand it. Maybe they feel it more than others, like me, except that it isn’t pleasant for them. My sister is like that. We were born so close in age, same height and weight for most of our lives and even really similar physical coloring, but she hates when people touch her, it makes her feel gross. Been like that since she was little. I, on the other hand, feel really gross when people don’t touch me. And I’ve also been like that since I was little. I’m so curious about what that is! I wonder if it could be boiled down to something as simple as skin type, or is it a big ball of emotional complexity reacting to touch or the lack of it. I just don’t know! I want to know.

  13. I’m surprised that touch occupies such a big part of your brain. I never really think about it. Sometimes people touch other people, sometimes they don’t. Doesn’t matter too much to me.

  14. Thank you Swami ji. I absolutely concur. May I also point out that to make these connections take patience and persistence because they don’t readily and easily open up, but do so only after they sense caring concern.

  15. This is a wise insight. Children understand first through physical contact and touch… before they can speak and understand language, they can feel your loving touch and physical connection. And if this has been established, then they can share emotional closeness with you after they learn language. But without this physical bond, they don’t feel any closer to you than some stranger.I can absolutely attest to this theory because my mom was extremely close with me physically. And we have an amazing emotional bond because of our early and deep connections through physical touch. 🙂

  16. You’re right, being close physically with your children is very important. Giving hugs and playing is all vital in developing your close relationship. I don’t understand parents who can not give their children hugs and physical closeness.

  17. I have experienced this in teaching children as well when it comes to discipline. When it comes up there are many ways to do with it, but to avoid it sll together, you give the children positive reinforcement, encouragement and happiness always with a smile and a high five or something like that and I find that in theose classes where positive reinforcement is used there is less whining, less complaints are made and all together the children are happy to be in the classroom.

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