What is Peaceful Touch®?
Peaceful Touch® began in Stockholm, Sweden in the early 1990s. The program began with a focus on teachers and school aides learning basic Swedish massage techniques in order to provide massage for children. Everywhere they began to introduce the program, the children themselves assimilated the basic massage strokes, and began to give and receive Peaceful Touch® with each other.
Both research and instinct inform us that touch is essential to human growth and development. However, in our fast paced culture it is common for children to lack healthy touch in their daily lives.
It's not Magic, It's Oxytocin
Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle hormone” and is released in the body in response to touch. New research shows that this extraordinary biochemical impacts our ability to recover from stressful experiences and promotes healing and connection by mitigating the harmful impacts of the stress hormone cortisol.
Peaceful Touch® Benefits
In classrooms where the peer-to-peer based healthy touch programs are used, teachers report positive results for children including:
- Greater empathy for peers
- Improved concentration
- Less fighting and aggressive behavior
- Better functioning in groups
- Lower levels of anxiety and stress
- Peaceful Touch and Storytelling for Trauma Recovery
By using Peaceful Touch techniques while telling the story of Hurricane Harvey, children are integrating the cognitive and the emotional parts of their brain, while touch stimulates oxytocin release and calms the nervous system. The integration of the two parts of the brain along with the activation of the relaxation response of the nervous system can help children feel safe to work through trauma they may have experienced. Touch and storytelling are powerful ways to encourage resilience and healing in children and families and we believe that schools have the opportunity to lay the foundation for families to emerge from this experience feeling stronger and more connected.
Peaceful Touch takes place in a group setting in the classroom. It is essential that children ask permission before giving Peaceful Touch and participation is optional. The permission process is crucial for teaching healthy boundaries with touch. These lessons carry over to all aspects of touch and boundary setting in the classroom, playground and even at home.
Whether an adult or child was directly impacted by the storm, we believe everyone benefits from integrating the experience with resilience and strength to move forward together.