by Jay Payleitner

One of the great privileges of fatherhood is roughhousing a bit with the kids. The joy of being a dad should overflow into making physical connections with sons and daughters at every age and stage.

When they’re babies, burble their tummies and squeeze their toes. Toddlers need to be rassled and tumbled. Horseyback rides work too. During grade school, make sure they get an equal dose of hugs, tickles, and noogies. That leads right into other physical contact as they mature, including dancing with your daughter and modeling a good, firm, respectful handshake. For the record, all kids—if they choose—should be able to sit in their dad’s lap anytime.

Noogies, tickles, and tummy burbles can be grand traditions to begin each day, to welcome Daddy home, or at bedtime. Ask four-year-olds if they’ve had their noogies today. If they say no, then you have the responsibility to rescue them from their noogie-less condition. If they say yes, then you have two choices. Give them an advance dose of noogies for tomorrow. Or simply say, “Thank goodness, because I’m all out. Do you have any noogies you can spare?” Then watch out.

When it comes to noogies, bear hugs, and so on, we’re not talking about abuse. Just the opposite! As a matter of fact, healthy physical contact between dads and kids helps build protection against unhealthy physical contact with those who might harm your precious kids.

So. Dad. Have you given your noogies today?

Read more of Jay’s contributions to fathers.com.

Jay Payleitner is the bestselling author of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, What If God Wrote Your Bucket List? and Day-by-Day Devotions for Dads. Jay and his high school sweetheart, Rita, live in St. Charles, Illinois where they raised five awesome kids, loved on ten foster babies, and are cherishing grandparenthood. Track him down at jaypayleitner.com.

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