“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
– I Corinthians 16:20 NIV
The reality of change, and the transition, is usually associated stress. Surely, the greater the change and the challenges associated with the transition increases the stress level. Reassuring our children they are loved and it is not their fault will go a long way in helping them cope with the transition as we learn to cope as the adult in the transition. Infants and toddlers may not be able to understand cognitively the reality of what is happening during the transition, but they understand hug breaks, gentle kisses, and a tone of voice that makes them feel safe and secure. Author Gary Chapman wrote a book titled The 5 Love Languages and one of the 5 languages of love is physical touch. Understanding communication is both verbal and non-verbal, how can one communicate affection to their child, or children, during a transition that continues to provide them safety and security during a time of change and challenge?
How about a high-five in recognition for the completion of a task? Try giving consistent positive verbal recognition for deeds done to reinforce continued demonstration of positive behavior. “I like the way you chose to use your time to read instead of watching television. Give me a high-five, or hug!” Some people believe picking a child up, giving them hugs spoil the child, but physical touch is a genuine human need. Physical touch validates a person’s physical presence expressing appreciation for them being present in the environment. As children get older it’s possible they receive positive physical touch less and less believing they’re too old for that now. Your teenagers may even say it, but it doesn’t change the fact it is a genuine human need. Some may have never experienced it growing up as a child being hugged or hearing the words, “I love you,” spoken to them. The awkwardness that comes from being able to give it and receive it may make us feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a genuine human need. Children may be young, but they are still human.
The reality of the changes and challenges associated with a transition and the stress that comes along for the ride may create an environment where affection gets put aside, but courage can break the glass and create an atmosphere of safety and security instead of isolation and anxiety. Despite the awkwardness, break the glass, and watch how the physical touch of love and affection can instill safety and security, reducing stress and anxiety for the giver as well as the recipient.
May God bless you and help you to make use of the love language physical touch and affection as you transition towards resiliency.