Nurturing Touch for Older Children

Written by NPN Guest on March 19th, 2012

Nurturing Touch

sibling love

It’s easy to love on and snuggle our babies. We’re born needing and craving touch.

Here is a brief article on the “Importance of Human Touch.” In the article they talk about how touch promotes growth in infants, and how as children grow they are touched less and less — seniors receive the least amount of touch out of all age groups.

That’s really sad, don’t you think? Why do we touch less as we get older? Maybe it’s because others are not comfortable with watching people touch in public. Maybe they weren’t loved on much as a child. Maybe because our society has to sexualize everything.
Touch is essential for our survival. Without it babies can die, and children and adults can become angry or depressed.

So, what about older kids? Searching the internet, it was hard to find information on nurturing touch for older children. Most people consider 5/6/7 and up older, so we’ll go with the age range of five and up.


My four- and seven-year-old still climb in my lap from time to time — the four-year-old more than her big sister. I love snuggling up with my kids on the couch. I have made it a point to frequently touch my family throughout the day. It helps us to stay connected.

What if you have children that don’t really like to cuddle? Maybe you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. They may or may not crave touch. There are plenty of ways to touch our children to let them know we love them, and are thinking about them as they get older. Keep your unique child in mind, and provide nurturing touch in a way that is respectful of your child.

Eye Contact

The eyes are the window to the soul. When you make eye contact with your children, you’re touching their heart. You let them know that you care, you love them, and you’re listening.

It can be a quick glance as you pass each other in the hall, sit across the table, cook together, etc. Or it can be a more deep connection while they’re talking to you.

Such a simple yet powerful act.

Light Touch

Something I’ve done with my kids that helps us stay connected throughout the day, especially when we’re busy bees on the go, is light touch.

If we’re at the park and they come back for a drink, I might rub the top of their head, or their back. I do this quite often at home.

It could be a light touch on the arm in passing.

Hugs and Kisses

I am constantly hugging and kissing on my son who’s almost two. The older ones get hugs and kisses usually in passing. You may even want to try eskimo or butterfly kisses with your kids.

My seven-year-old frequently asks if she can hug me, or will walk up to me and hug me. I love this! She also enjoys bear hugs from her daddy.

There are times when she is all about the touch, usually throughout the day, but at night when she’s winding down for bed, she doesn’t want anything to touch her. Part of this is due to her sensory sensitivities, and we respect that.

Maybe your older child doesn’t care for all the public displays of affection, and that’s ok! Every child is different.

Other ways to provide nurturing touch for the older child can include:

High Fives

Secret Handshakes

Skin to Skin

Try out back rubs, foot rubs, or tracing letters or shapes on their feet or back.

Physical Games

Tag, duck duck goose, etc.


Roughhousing can be a great way to get out energy and connect with your kids.

However, make sure your child keeps the lead in these activities. If they say stop, you stop. If they say no, then don’t do it.

Holding Hands

Touch is energy, and touch moves energy. Touch is the first sense to develop in the womb and the last to leave in old age.

We need touch to help us develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. Touch can relax, comfort, and heal us. We need touch the same way that we need air and food. Keep finding ways to give the gift of loving touch to your kids as they grow.


Darcel, Author of Mahogany Way

Darcel is a stay at home mama to Nakiah (5.5yrs), Ava (3yrs), & Samuel (born May 2010). They are a Christian, attachment parenting, unschooling family. Her favorite colors are red and pink, she loves chocolate and peanut butter, and she a lip gloss addict who misses wearing high heels.

9 Responses to Nurturing Touch for Older Children

  1. Lisa@Granola Catholic  

    So true, kids and all of us need touch even as we age. My babies are 14, 11 and 7 and they still need a soft hand to guide them.

  2. Darcel {The Mahogany Way}  

    Touch is part of our makeup. I love hearing that pre-teens and teens still enjoy a great relationship with their parents. Everything seems to be coming full circle through the generations once again.

  3. Laura S.  

    Thank you for this! I have 3 older children who are 5, 7, and 8 and sometimes I forget that I need to still “snuggle” with them. It really is important to maintain that bond and it seems to calm them down. Sometimes when my 7 year old gets upset about something and is freaking out, I just hold her on my lap until she calms down.
    I am not ashamed to admit that I sat on my mom’s lap and snuggled with her until I was 11. 🙂

  4. Samantha  

    I love it when my 4 year old randomly comes up to me tell me he loves me and gives me a kiss. It is so heartwarming, I can only imagine how he feels when I do the same!

    I also love to see how affectionate he is with his little sister (8 months), it makes me feel like I did something right!

  5. Susie

    Thank you for the reminder! I have a 6 year old, 3 year old, and 5 month old. And the baby definitely gets the majority of snuggles. I needed the reminder about my older children and thanks for the list of simple things I can do.

  6. Lauren  

    I’m so glad you wrote this! Older kids absolutely need love, too. My four-year-old randomly comes up to me during the day to give me a hug or say he loves me; obviously, he knows when he needs touch and connection! I’ve been looking for ways to keep that going, and I will definitely use your ideas.

    One that I liked with my dad when I was a kid was to close my eyes as we walked, hold his hand, and let him guide me. That might be a fun challenge for some kids!

  7. Seonaid  

    My babies are now 12, 8, and 5. The older ones don’t come looking for snuggles very often, but sometimes I just say, “Do you need a Mommy snuggle?” (If I get just the right tone of self-mockery so that they can pretend that it is really just for me, they will concede.) When my great big 12-year-old son sits down with me, it is a lot like snuggling a Great Dane. He tends to go limp and drape himself over me, now from head to foot. And they are great snuggles. As long as I don’t mind the pokey elbows. And knees. And the hair up the nose.

    The other day I hugged him, and I kissed him on top of his head. And I said, “I’m not going to be able to do this much longer. When you’re taller than me, will you kiss the top of my head?” And he smiled up at me and assured me he was looking forward to it.

  8. Jo

    I’m just working on an article about Theraplay activities. These can include ways to make physical contact and connect with older children.
    Elephant kisses are good, (kiss your fist, make an elephant trunk shape gesture, then plant fist on child) if they won’t accept real kisses. Silly games like making pizza or weather reports on their backs, or pretending to make a sandwich on a lying down child then squashing down with cushions. Plus there’s always good old rough-housing. Great to see someone else giving some attention to this area.

  9. Gin

    I have run behind my sons, to this day, threatening to kiss them, making those kiss kiss noises, lol. I think they know quite well, they are loved. 🙂