Do children need massage? In a word, yes! Everyone benefits from nurturing touch, and children most of all. Safe therapeutic touch teaches children about their bodies and about healthy ways to experience pleasure, and provides parents a way to calm and comfort and connect with their child(ren) outside of the massage session. It even can help kids sleep better and recover more easily from the stresses and injuries of daily life.
The Holding Space Massage approach to pediatric massage, certified by the world-renowned Liddle Kidz Foundation, is rooted in the idea that children are fully their own persons, but they aren't simply miniature adults. Massage for children (6-12) doesn't look like massage for youth and teens (10-21) which doesn't necessarily look like massage for adults. Younger children will remain fully clothed, or wearing comfortable shorts/pants and a tshirt. We may or may not use any oils; some children like the feel, or want to know what massage "like my parent gets" is like, but primarily we work over clothing. The massage may not take place on the table! If a child doesn't want to lie down, we will often work on the floor or in a chair; we do the massage wherever your child is comfortable.
A 45 minute pediatric session may only consist of a few minutes of hands-on touch -- but! both you and your child are learning all about massage, healthy touch, and their own bodily autonomy, and you will come away with concrete, practical skills to bring massage into your daily lives together.
For youth, we can discuss whether a shorter pediatric, shorter "traditional", or full length regular massage session is best. Depending on their attention span, needs, and developmental age, many teens do very well with more "grown up" style massage, while tweens vary significantly (sometimes week to week!).
Massage may be especially important for children experiencing body or gender dysphoria, or with creative gender presentations that may make them the subject of negative comments or attention from an ignorant public. With regular massage, from a licensed massage therapist trained in pediatric massage or from their own parents, transgender or gender creative children have an opportunity to learn that their bodies can be a source of pleasure and joy and relaxation, and that they are worthy of safe touch and acceptance and celebration exactly as they are.
Similarly, children who are -- or are labeled by peers or family members as -- fat often experience their body as an enemy, or a source of pain or embarrassment. Massage allows them to experience that their bodies are still, and always can be, sources of pleasure, pride, and capability. (Please note that Holding Space Massage is an explicitly fat-positive place, and will not support or encourage any weight loss attempts, especially for children, and indeed considers such attempts for children to be unethical as well as unhealthy on the parts of any adults promoting them.)
If you're interested in pediatric massage, especially for your fat, trans, gender nonconforming, or queer identified child, please contact me directly, as I am not currently allowing online scheduling for pediatric appointments but do still offer them.
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