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Numerous studies from various fields have established that touch is vital to healthy adjustment during infancy and also during old age. Physiological research emphasizes the importance of touch to physical and psychological systems (Field, 2003). Attachment research emphasizes the importance of touch in the sensitive responsiveness and availability characteristic of the secure attachment style (Kassow & Dunst, 2004). Behavioral research emphasize the importance of contingent touch in reinforcement of infant behavior (Gewirtz & Pelaez- Nogueras, 2000). Recently, attention has been given to research examining touch in medical situations for elderly populations.

Theoretically, touch should remain important throughout the lifespan, but most touch research has focused on infants or elders (Field, 2003). It stands to reason that sensitive, contingent physical touch between parent and child would be associated with positive adjustment beyond infancy, such as in middle childhood. However, this relation has been seldom investigated. This article describes a study we conducted to add to current knowledge by focusing on middle childhood, investigating the links between parents’ touch of their children during interaction and their children’s psychological adjustment. It is our hope that our findings, which highlight the importance that parental touch has for children’s well-being, will be beneficial for parents and professionals alike.


Originally published in Counseling Vistas, 2011. Volume 11. Retrieved from /vistas11/Article_88.pdf