“Touched-Out” Roughhousing

Here’s an unconventional tip for parents who are sensory-sensitive or get “touched out”.

First of all — there’s nothing wrong with you if your preferred level of touching, snuggling, hugging, wrestling etc in a day is less than your child’s. There’s nothing wrong with them, either. It’s just a normal need for them to have and seek. Most kids aren’t allowed to wrestle and roughhouse or sometimes even hug and touch with their friends at school and other places. There are sometimes good reasons for that…but that doesn’t stop it from being a developmentally appropriate type of play for children, and a need that they have to meet.

Anyway, something I’ve found that really helps me at the end of the day if I’m tired and want a degree of separation between my body and theirs is to literally use just that: a pillow, a blanket, a stuffed animal. I start a pillow fight. I grab a big stuffie and make it “hug” them or “wrestle” them. Last night I was waving a blanket over my toddler to make lots of wind and then throwing it over his body and he was rolling around tangled up in it screamlaughing…then I took the blanket off and did it again, and again. You could put a big beanbag on top of them and give deep pressure squishes. You could roll them up in a blanket and call them a burrito.

Kids who are super super touchy are often seeking “touch” in the sense of love and snuggles, yes, but also they’re often craving deep pressure sensation in their body — like the feeling of a tight hug or heavy blankets. We call that “proprioceptive input” — it’s sensory input that meets the proprioceptive sense, a sense deep inside your body that wants squeezes and deep pressure and heavy workouts for the muscles. It’s a normal thing for kids because their bodies know they need resistance to grow and to feel regulated.

All of these games and play still involve you being there, present, and playful (aka the lovey, touchy part of touches) while also meeting the tactile and proprioceptive needs while ALSO giving your body a break from actually having to be touched.

If nothing else, it’s always good for a laugh to “tackle” one of my kids with a stuffed rabbit and watch them flop around fighting it as if it’s actually going to fight back. 😄