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How to Use Playful Touch with Your Child

The therapeutic parenting approach of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) can help you to support your child along their healing journey from early adversity and trauma.  There are a lot of ways that TBRI® can help you to do this, and the great thing is that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  In fact, helping your child can be as simple as using healthy, playful touch.        


Having a playful approach to touch is a small, but powerful, way to help your child feel connected to you.  Connection builds trust, helps to disarm fear, and reduces challenging behaviours.  Connection is also at the heart of healing.


There are a lot of ways that you can connect with your kiddo in a meaningful way, not just through hugs and cuddles.  You might give your child a high-5, a fist bump, or create a special handshake.  You could affectionately bump shoulders.  As you’re talking to your child, you might sweep their hair out of their face, or lightly touch their cheek.  If touch is really difficult for your kiddo, you might just be in physical proximity to them, without making contact. 


When it comes to building connection with your kiddo, it’s all about the small moments, like using playful, healthy touch.  They add up over time in a way that helps to create a nurturing and safe base from which your child can thrive.  So, when it comes to building connection with your kiddo, think small and think often. 


Whether you are in a good place, or if you find yourself in a pattern where parenting is hard or where things may even feel stuck, remind yourself to go back to the heart of parenting – connection.  That’s where the root of your child’s healing lies.


TBRI® can offer you a lot of tips and tools for increasing moments of connection with your child.  Find out how by visiting 




Jessica Spenceley is a therapeutic social worker with over 20 years of experience helping adoptive parents navigate their parenting journeys using the attachment-based, trauma-informed parenting approach of TBRI®.

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