Massage between siblings is a powerful tool. We all know the benefits of receiving a massage. The physical contact between too children can be calming, reassuring, relaxing. The child giving the massage may also feel like this; afterall, oxytocin hormone is produced by both children whether they are receiving the massage of delivering the massage.
It is the impact that massage can have on behaviour that interests me the most. There is a huge amount of research in this area, a lot of it has been based around the internationally renowned Massage in Schools Programme. Schools that implement this programme find that their incidence rate of bullying drops dramatically – it’s quite difficult to be nasty to someone you have just nurtured through massage.
This translates to home situations too. Siblings that regularly massage each other experience less sibling rivalry. There’s something about giving and receiving massage that just makes everyone feel equal and loved and supported. Through massage, our children can learn to listen to and respect each others’ wishes and boundaries. Research has shown that children who are used to tuning in to another’s wishes during massage, are much more gentle during ‘rough and tumble’ play. They learn that “No” really means “Please stop that”.
Children who learn peer massage can become more empathetic, more understanding and less ego-centric. They learn to use all their senses during communication and they can read body language more accurately. The bond between siblings can strengthen through massage as trust builds.
Massage between siblings is so simple and easy to build into your daily routine. My three (the older two at least) regularly enjoy massaging each other at bedtime. It’s proved a useful child-management tool for me on nights when I am on my own at bedtime because the older two calmly massage each other whilst I settle the youngest one in bed. Oh and massage improves sleep quality for everyone!