by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
Military Families - have you considered how you will reunite with your children upon your return?
When you are a service man or woman, and your country calls you to action, you answer in many cases by going away to fulfill your service mission. In these cases, your loved ones get left behind. This can be especially troubling when you have a young child, or a child on the way. You may anticipate missing some special moments, including your child’s birth, but have you considered how you will reunite upon your return?
As a soldier returning from Duty, reconnecting with your children is often difficult
When you return home, you hope to be able to start right back where you left off. You anticipate being able to reconnect as a family, and be a parent with a strong connection to your child. This can often be difficult to say the least.
Children of deployed parents, and their parents, experienced elevated self-reported symptom levels of depression
In a 1996 study of children’s response to parental separation during Operation Desert Storm, researchers Jensen, Martin and Watanabe found that both children of deployed parents, and their parents, experienced elevated self-reported symptom levels of depression. It was also found that boys and younger children appeared to be especially vulnerable to deployment effects. Anecdotally, I am sure we could then reason that all parents and children will have some not-so-positive effects with the separation caused by deployment.
When you are considering reconnection with your children, you need to look at those elements which contribute to strengthening your bond. Some of these key elements include eye-to-eye contact, skin-to-skin contact and communication. Once of the best ways to incorporate these elements into an activity that is enjoyable for all is in the form of nurturing touch and massage.
Eye-to-Eye Contact: During massage the caregiver is encouraged to make direct eye-to-eye contact with their child. Research says frequent eye contact is a key indicator of a child who’s gaining confidence. This eye-to-eye contact provides meaningful communication at close range. A powerful psychological connection, this interaction triggers a message in the brain to temporarily shut down the production of stress hormones.
Skin-to-Skin Contact: During massage, touch, our very first sense is triggered. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and is the primary sensory organ. During the experience of touch, endorphins are released creating a feeling of euphoria for the giver and receiver. It's soothing for both parent and child, while promoting a child's healthy growth. Touch has been proven to increase the healthy balance, coordination and development of the nervous system.
Communication: Babies and children prefer human voices and enjoy vocalizing in their first efforts at communication. Babies often enjoy just listening to your conversations, as well as your descriptions of their activities and environments. Babies seem to respond to high pitched voices (baby talk) and singing. Research shows babies recognize and show preference for the sound of their parent’s voice over that of a stranger. During massage you have a perfect opportunity to communicate verbally and non-verbally.
Infant massage is especially valuable to military families reconnecting once parents return from long deployments According to parent educators at Fort Hood, “Infant massage is a gentle, structured path that soldiers can take to start or re-establish a nurturing, "touch-ful" relationship with their infant or toddler. Learning infant massage can make a huge impact on your family’s reunification process.”
Specially trained Certified Infant Massage Teachers (CIMTs)
Through working as a Certified Infant Massage Teacher you have the special opportunity to impact an infant and their family for a lifetime.
This professional training is for those interested in working with families by becoming a Certified Infant Massage Teacher (CIMT). A CIMT is not only an instructor, but also an educator who teaches the art of infant massage to parents or caregivers in the presence of their babies.
For more information visit Comprehensive Infant Massage Teacher Training Course (CIMT)
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