Love Language: Physical Touch

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The first love language discussed in The Five Love Languages of Children is Physical Touch. The idea of physical touch is probably pretty straight forward. It is also probably quite easy for you to figure out how to provide physical touch for your child. With younger children, you fulfill this need whether you want to or not. You are carrying, dressing, holding, rocking, bathing, etc. your child all day long. As your child continues to get older, you will need to make more effort.

If you are like me, physical touch isn’t your natural way of showing love. If you child is like Brayden, he doesn’t seem to care if he gets physical touch or not, and might even sometimes pull away when you try to kiss him 100 times in 10 seconds. As a side note, this book states that between/around age 7-9, boys typically start to resist physical touch (page 33). They still need it all through their growing up years, and lives.

Keep in mind that all children need to be touched in loving ways. “Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices” (page 31). “All children need to be touched” (page 31). This is true even if the primary love language is not physical touch. Something like a hug says love to all children, though it does shout love to those who have physical touch as their primary love language (page 37). “Babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact” (page 31).

Physical touch is especially important at times of sickness, pain physically, pain emotionally, fatigue, or when something funny or sad has taken place (page 34). For girl’s, need for physical touch is very very big–especially from their fathers (page 34).

One thing to note is that for a child for whom physical touch is the primary love language, physical touch out of anger can be detrimental according to Chapman and Campbell (page 37).

Ideas For Showing Love Through Physical Touch:

  • Give hugs
  • Hug for greetings and good-byes
  • Kiss for greetings and good-byes
  • Kneel down on child’s level for hugs
  • Allow children to have a soothie (blanket, stuffed animal, etc.) for comfort
  • Stroke head/hair
  • Cuddle
  • Hold child in lap
  • Hug and Kiss good-night
  • Back rubs. Chapman and Campbell suggest doing this especially when child is telling you about something upsetting.
  • After discipline, give hugs to show child discipline was based on consequences for child’s actions but you still love your child.
  • Cuddle while watching TV.
  • High fives for positive behavior and good jobs
  • Give gifts that are touch oriented, like pillows, blankets, or sweaters
  • Tickle (as long as your child enjoys it)
  • Play sports and games that require physical touch. This allows for natural touching
  • Cuddle while reading stories. For younger children, have the child on your lap
  • Toss baby in air
  • Touch arm or shoulder often
  • Sing songs together that require touching and action like clapping, spinning, or jumping
  • Give extra cuddles when child is sick
  • Family group hugs
  • Give kisses even if child is “too old” by his standards
  • Baths, dressing, carrying

Personal Observations
I do not believe Brayden has physical touch as a high need of his. I think his level of need is fulfilled by what we provide. I am not positive–remember that you can’t know love language until age 5–but this is my current assumption.

But he still loves some physical touch, as this book indicates. He always wants a kiss and hug from whomever is leaving the house–or from me if it is him leaving. This is true even when he is just going next door to play.

Brayden loves to get a hug first thing each morning. He also loves to cuddle while reading stories at night. Each night after we read stories and have family prayer, Brayden and I cuddle on the couch and talk about the day. It lasts for maybe five minutes. He loves it, and we have had many powerful, though short, conversations doing this.

I always make sure to give some sort of rub on the arm or hug when correcting him. If it is a serious offense, I tend to hold him on my lap. He loves to do high-fives for good jobs. If I see him exercising great restraint or self-control, I rub his head.

Kaitlyn is quite different. I believe one of her primary love languages is physical touch. If she isn’t getting enough physical touch, she makes sure you know it. She often asks to be held or to simply sit in my lap. She loved it when I was pregnant with McKenna. I sat a lot, and she sat right with me.

Kaitlyn adores games like ring around the rosie. She loves high fives, hugs, and kisses. She likes for me to run my fingers through her hair. She also likes hugs and kisses. She will often come to you, hug you and say, “I love you so much Mama.” If you hug her spontaneously, she always giggles and says, “I love you, too.”

Kaitlyn has many stuffed animals. She isn’t attached to them in a strange way, but she loves to carry them around. She loves to be tickled. She often asks to be carried around. This isn’t because she is lazy or wants to be treated like a “baby.” It is because she wants to be held.

McKenna is young, but I think she leans more toward loving physical touch. Brayden was obviously not that interested basically from birth. McKenna loves to cuddle. She adores kisses. She initiates kisses and “hugs” baby style. She is very content sitting in laps.

Physical touch is important to all children and to all people. I can see the importance in the lives of my children, even the one who doesn’t seem that interested overall. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of physical touch for your children. There is much more of value in this chapter–especially for older children. I have said it in the past, but I really think every parent needs to read this book.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Serah
    April 1, 2010 / 7:03 PM

    My son will turn 10 months on Tuesday and it has been a bit difficult for me at times that his love language does not seem to be physical touch. He isn't much of a cuddler and is not content sitting in laps for very long. He likes to be on the go. Sometimes I just want to lay or sit and cuddle with him but he doesn't let me do this:( I still give him lots of kisses on his chubby lil cheeks tho…who can resist sweet baby cheeks!

  2. Plowmanators
    April 1, 2010 / 9:59 PM

    Serah, you sound like my mom 🙂 When Brayden was a baby, she would say "he is just like you! You wouldn't cuddle at all!" She thought it was some sort of justice for me, but of course not being a cuddler myself, I didn't feel bad 🙂 My girls are cuddlers, and it is sweet, that is for sure 🙂

  3. Jessica
    April 1, 2010 / 11:37 PM

    I suspect that physical touch is one of Avery's top 3 love languages, along with quality time and words of affirmation. She tends to need to be disciplined more if I have not spent enough one-on-one time with her. Avery loves hugs, kisses, and will spontaneously hug us, she also has a blanket and a baby she sleeps with.Physical touch happens to be my #1 love language. Lucky husband. HA! 😉 I believe this helps with Avery because I am naturally inclined to touch to show love, whether it be a pat on the back while we are playing the the sandbox to holding her hand while we pray.

  4. Kristy Powers
    April 2, 2010 / 12:31 PM

    Yes, I love this book and I only read it because of your recommendation! It's interesting and important to see which way each of your children feel love.Neither of my babies would cuddle or sit with me. They are/were too busy. Oh, well. At age three, my older son got a LOT more interested in cuddling. It's interesting to see how that changes through different ages.

  5. Plowmanators
    April 16, 2010 / 6:03 PM

    Kristy, I am glad you like it!

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