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Essential Touch: Meeting the Needs of Young Children

Essential Touch: Meeting the Needs of Young Children


The paper discusses the book called Essential Touch: Meeting the Needs of Young Children written by Frances M. Carlson. The book was published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 2006 in Washington. The content of the book entails a discussion regarding touch and its importance in children’s development and learning. The author also talks about the process of nurturing children through human contact, teaching them about contact, the concerns regarding contact in early childhood stages, and how to handle children with touch-related individual needs.

Discussion on Touch

According to Frances, essential touch for children is a means of communication that is quite critical. Touch is a way by which young children, namely toddlers and infants, can relate to the world; thus, touch plays an important role as they develop and get more knowledge. At the early stages of childhood, touch entails a direct physical contact between parents, caregivers, and peers. It also involves providing children with exposure and practical experience of the world at large. To meet the needs of young children, it is, therefore, imperative that the providers of touch sufficiently cater for their children’s need for contact in an educational, nurturing, and respectful manner (Frances, 2006).

Young children require plenty of positive human contact in many forms, for instance, carrying, hugging them, giving high fives, swinging them, massaging, and, most importantly, holding them. Frances believes that this kind of nurturing touch from the caregivers is essential as it arouses the childrens’ feeling that they are loved, cherished, and secure. Positive interactions with fellow peers assist in developing emotional and social competence.

Educators of young children usually try to cater smoothly for the needs of small children by:

  • Devloping programs that have unique learning environments equipped with proper play materials. The environment is designed to have a plenty of opportunities that provide experience and experiments involving the children’s’ tactile sensation. With such programs in play, small children feel many different objects of various shapes, sizes, and textures. This is subsequently followed by them pushing, lifting, pulling, and squeezing the objects available within the environment.
  • They also try maintaining a good eye contact when teaching, smiling, and talking in order to get their attention.

Effects of Lack of Touch

Lack of contact to children brings about several effects that are discussed below:

  • Aggression: Psychologists believe that levels of aggression and intense violence in young children are associated with the lack of touch. Studies done prove that children who received more touching from their parents and close relatives were less aggressive.
  • Absence of touch deprives young children of learning and nurturing environment that they require in order to grow. Some children understand or experience touch only in the form of aggression or when they are being punished by their parents. Such circumstances make children unable to discern touch that expresses love and touch that expresses danger. Therefore, it is quite easy for kids with such attributes to get sexually exploited.


Frances M. Carlson is currently the leading instructor at the Chattahoochee Technical College. She has a Master’s degree in Education and over 20-year experience in early childhood programs.

From the book, we see that every child needs the basic things for life, for instance, water, warmth, food, home, and a proper clothing. However, the most part important aspect is that they need to feel that the people around love and protect them. By so doing, we empower them to thrive, be safe, confident, and healthy (Frances, 2006). The steps to achieve this involve:

  • Learning new things: Young children are usually enthusiastic to discover new things or go to new places. The best way to make them learn fast is making them interact with other children. Also, personally helping your child is of utmost importance as charity begins at home.
  • Meeting their daily needs: Young children need to know they are loved and their needs are going to be satisfied, for instance, feeding children when they are hungry, helping them in case of any pain, and following planned family routines among others.
  • Feeling safe and secure: When children feel that they are safe and secure, it is usually easy for them to trust and open towards other individuals and children. When their confidence develops, it assists them in growing up jubilant and healthy.
  • Love and hugs: Hugging and cuddling young children makes them feel safe and comforts them. For instance, holding them or putting them on one’s lap, shows signs of care.
  • Praising children: Young children usually want to please their parents or teachers. If words of praise follow this attempt, the child will do it repetitively that will make him or her feel good. Subsequently, they start learning easily, get along well with others, and feel happier.
  • Smiles: Smiling is a way to make young children feel comfortable and secure. Smiling at or with them implies that they please you, you cherish them, and feel happy in their presence. 


In conclusion, I believe that touch is crucial as it is helpful in the child’s development. Parents and practitioners should engage children in plenty of activities to form bonds that go an extended way in their growth as well as shape their characters. They must make sure that they make provide a comfortable environment which young children can engage in to develop further.






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