There’s great power and affirmation in a father’s touch. A kiss on the forehead. A rub of the head. A bear hug. A squeeze on the knee. A fist bump. A pat on the back. An arm around the shoulder.

Dad, you need to recognize how much power there is in your touch. Especially as you relate to your kids every day.

Of course, it changes through the years. With babies, it’s almost all about touch. You’re cuddling, carrying and dressing them, and changing diapers. Toddlers convey all kinds of signals that they want physical contact. They grab your leg or stretch their arms up to you. They love to sit close to look at picture books or do puzzles.

Older kids don’t need as much day-to-day help and may not seek physical interaction, but even as they grow, our children still need that affirming physical touch from their dad. Here are more tips and ideas you can try:

  • If you’re able, occasionally grab your teenager and pick him up off the ground, like you did when he was three. Maybe you can’t throw him in the air anymore, but that’s still a great way to connect.
  • Sometimes be intentional, like when you want to reinforce an accomplishment with a big congratulatory hug. Or maybe it’s a “just because” hug. Those can be the best of all.
  • If you’re having a hard time initiating a hug, make a verbal request. Say something like, “Got a hug for your old man today?” Or, “Sweetie, I could really use a hug.”
  • It’s funny how hugs feel a little more natural in the doorway or driveway before or after a road trip. Take full advantage of those situations and see if they lead to hugs anytime family members come and go.
  • Regular hugs with your wife—that the kids can see—have all kinds of benefits including establishing a pattern of physical touch in your family.
  • Even brief physical contact can be meaningful. Give your son or daughter a smile and pat on the back as you pass in the hallway.
  • If it doesn’t come naturally, start small, like a fist bump. Or find your own expression. In all likelihood, dad, you’re going to have to be the one to initiate it.

No matter what, don’t let affirming touch fall by the wayside. It’s an important way to communicate, “You’re special to me.” “I want to engage with you.” Touch sends messages that we couldn’t communicate any other way.

You can figure out what works best for you, but your kids absolutely do need your affirming touch.

What works for you? How do you initiate affirming touch with your kids? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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