Overall, what role do you think touch has for the development of the children? You talked about the babies, but how is it for the children that you experience in your classroom?
In terms of children’s brain development and their emotional development, we think our connections to feeling loved, safe, and secure are generally delivered by touch. If you go back to very early childhood, we remember cuddles, being rocked, being carried. When a child is well loved, their hands are held, they are hugged, they have a sense of family, sitting all together, and there is a sense of connection to touch. If you think about the primacy of touch in infancy above all the other senses, touch is paramount in our ability to thrive. With her research on premature infants, Tiffany Field (a professor of pediatrics, psychology, and psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine and director of the Touch Research Institute) was able to experience phenomenal developmental growth and weight gain in infants, simply by making sure a loving hand came through the incubator and stroked the little baby. I think touch transcends age, generation, culture, and language. It is a universal language, and I deeply believe that touch is the most human connection that we can have.
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