Tickling babies is often considered a harmless and enjoyable way to bond and play. Some children even request their parents for tickling baby feet games from their parents, which creates a sense of closeness and playfulness.
However, after listening to many adults recount the emotional challenges they experienced during childhood, it is clear that tickling kids can also be harmful.
Your little one might have difficulty relaxing when someone is near them. When they grow up, they may be unable to sleep near a trusted partner or remain calm when there is more than casual touching between them and someone they love.
When asked about their fears, many adults recall times from their childhood when they were tickled and unable to stop the tickling. These experiences of being unable to control their body and being in a state of distress can have long-lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety and security in physical relationships. Recent research suggests that tickling kids can adversely affect children’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
In this blog post, we’ll explore five reasons why tickling kids can be harmful.
1. It can cause physical harm.
Tickling kids can lead to physical harm, especially if the child is too young or too fragile. The tickling sensation can be too intense for their delicate skin, leading to redness, irritation, and injury. It can also cause respiratory problems, especially for children with asthma.
Furthermore, if the child is tickled too forcefully or in sensitive areas, such as the neck or groin, it can cause pain, discomfort, and even trauma.
Tickling a baby can also send mixed signals to them about their bodies and personal boundaries. They may need clarification about what is appropriate to touch and what is not, leading to potential problems in the future.
2. It can create trust issues
When adults plan to have fun by tickling babies, they often do it without their consent, ignoring their boundaries and physical autonomy. This can make the child feel uncomfortable, violated, and confused about the nature of touch and intimacy. It can also undermine their trust in the adult and their ability to set and enforce boundaries.
It is essential to remember that children are individuals with unique personalities. Tickling baby feet might be enjoyable for one child but not for another. Therefore, communicating and asking for their consent before engaging in any physical play, including tickling babies, is necessary.
It’s essential for adults to understand the impact that tickling a baby can have on them and to take steps to ensure that their actions are always respectful and consensual. If a child expresses discomfort or asks an adult to stop tickling them, listening and respecting their boundaries is essential. Doing so can help create a safe and supportive environment for all children to grow and thrive.
3. It can be humiliating.
Tickling kids can humiliate some children, especially if they have experienced it in public or in front of their peers. It can make them feel embarrassed, self-conscious, and exposed, leading to low self-esteem and anxiety. Moreover, if tickling a baby involves teasing or mocking, it can create a toxic dynamic between the adult and the child based on power and control.
Humiliation can have long-lasting effects on a child’s psyche. When a child is tickled in public or front of their peers, it can create a sense of shame and embarrassment lasting for years. Ticking a baby may feel like being singled out, made fun of, or bullied. This can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation.
4. It can reinforce gender stereotypes.
Tickling babies can reinforce gender stereotypes, particularly those related to masculinity and femininity. Boys are often tickled more aggressively and for more extended periods than girls, which can promote the idea that boys should endure pain and be tough. On the other hand, girls are often tickled more gently and in more intimate areas, which can perpetuate the idea that girls should be passive and vulnerable.
Moreover, tickling kids can also create power imbalances between the tickler and the child. It puts the tickler in control and can make the child feel powerless and vulnerable. This can lead to anxiety and discomfort, especially if the tickling continues beyond the child’s comfort level.
5. It can trigger traumatic memories.
Finally, tickling kids can trigger traumatic memories in children who have experienced abuse or assault. Tickling baby feet can simulate being held down, touched, or violated without consent, which can be highly triggering and traumatic for some children. Even if tickling baby feet is done with good intentions and no harm intended, it can still cause emotional distress and flashbacks.
Tickling a baby may seem harmless fun, but it can negatively affect their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. It’s essential to respect children’s boundaries, autonomy, and dignity, and avoid any activity that could harm or humiliate them. If you want to bond and play with your child, consider alternative safe, respectful, and enjoyable activities for both of you.
At Eurokids, we team up with your kids to teach them good and bad touch. We also focus on experiential learning that makes them strong enough to say no to things they are uncomfortable with and set healthy boundaries. Click here to know more or to visit a Eurokids centre for preschool admission for your child.