Often the child lies on the mother's belly after birth and there it has its first touch. Because of this and all other experiences of touch, the child gets the opportunity to experience his body as a solid temple. A very specific moment in the development of the sense of touch is the moment at which a child becomes sensitive to tickling. In tickling, fear and experiencing touch play together, the tension that is built up is repelled by tension of the muscles on the one hand and by laughter on the other hand. The sincere pleasure that children can have from tickling and with which they provoke it, means that it is a joyful exercise of the sense of touch. It is also a dangerous game as we can notice when laughter turns into crying.
The sense of touch makes that the child ‘feels at home’ a feeling of security. The opposite of this achievement is fear, which is also an ability to feel danger, with which every child is born.
The background of fear is the feeling of not being safe, not being carried, the feeling of being left alone. Every infant shows the 'fear reflex' when he briefly loses contact with a carrying hand or when he is frightened by an unexpected sound. Later on this fear can become more explicit for something that feels dirty. For example a frog or a jellyfish; fear of blows, especially when they come unexpectedly; fear of the dark, when the boundary falls away; fear of heights when the groping gaze does not span the space; fear of death when the certainty of the other world is lost.
Fear and security are given along with the sense of touch as an ability. It gives a child safety and security to get to know and overcome fear. Not finding security results in fear. In education both sides of the sense of touch can have a place: security should not be exaggerated and fear should not be denied.
It is of great importance with which intention and certainty parents and educators pick up the child, put him down, carry him around and so on. The sense of touch always keeps its primary task, to make the child experience a boundary. Even when a child comes to cuddle, it looks for these two sides of touch: help me to experience that I have my limits and help me to feel included in your protection. When cuddling becomes too intimate, things go wrong with both the experience of boundary and with protection.
In this aspect I see the beauty of the AG (Anthroposofically oriented) sensory theory of the four of the lower senses. Man is given something donated to his body and the love of his parents, but at the same time he can practice with senses given to him. So, if the child has received less love than another, he can still get very far by actively using his sense of touch. The higher I of the child (the mind itself) will also stimulate this in a magical way if it has received power from previous incarnations. Meanwhile, research has shown that some children suffer a lot from an unsafe attachment and other children do not (Zenah and Gleason, 2010 in Rigter, 2016). The researchers suggest that there are several protective factors of which we are not yet aware. Such a protective factor could be the good development of the sense of touch by the child itself or by stimulation of the play therapist or for example the haptonomist (Van Langen, 2020). The learning of the senses can reduce the feeling of victimization in adults with an unsafe attachment, of being a victim of the environment of parents or family. In play and drama, children can practice spontaneously with a natural form of bonding and touch from the right intention. And what the child lacked can be complemented in the therapeutic relationship but at the same time the earthly life offers a natural stimulus in which the child practices the senses independently and this promotes his self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the feeling of being able to influence your life and the environment.
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