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Skin Love – A Child’s Survival, Development & Self-Worth

Skin Love - A Child’s Survival, Development & Self-Worth
Skin Love – A Child’s Survival, Development & Self-Worth

 In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the significance of Skin Love to a child’s survival, development and self-worth.

First a quick update:

“We Teach Others How To Treat Us”
Do you value yourself? Do you place boundaries about the way people can treat you? The value you give to yourself is the same value others will give to you. 

“Video Message to Chris Brown – Stop Hanging Out With Toxic People”
The latest legal trouble for singer Chris Brown has moved to claims that the alleged victim, Baylee Curran was actually setting him up. Curran has been revealed to be lying about who she is and the titles she holds. Watch: Chris Brown hasn’t yet learned to stay away from toxic people and emotional vampires. 

Now, let’s talk about the significance of Skin Love to a child’s survival, development and self-worth.

It is clear that survival is dependent on food, water & shelter. What is not commonly clear is the need for touch and love for survival & healthy development:

“Skin Love” is the touch and tenderness upon infants – their first experience of love.

The initial messages of love in infancy come in the form of tactile stimulation.

We send and receive emotional signals by touch.

Studies reveal that children who don’t receive ample physical touch and emotional attention often experience behavioral, emotional and social problems growing up as well as a negative impact on their physical development (maturation of the brain and imbalance in hormones such as high cortisol, low oxytocin and low vasopressin.) Read the study: “The importance of touch in development”

The significance of Skin Love can also be demonstrated by the phenomenon of thermoregulation between the mother and infant:

The skin area on the mother’s chest is a couple of degrees higher than her body temperature and when the mother places the infant on her chest thermoregulation occurs whereby if the infant’s temperature drops, the mother’s temperature rises, and if the infant’s temperature rises, the mother’s temperature drops, too.

Skin Love and emotional love deeply impact the child and even impact the child’s recognition of self and self-worth & lovability as I’ll explain in a moment.

Anthony Walsh is a medical sociologist and criminologist and author of “The Science of Love.”  Walsh states that a lack of love contributes to childhood illnesses, stunts physical and intellectual growth, weakens the immune system, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and exacerbates neurosis, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

“In his book The Science of Love, Anthony Walsh defines love as “that which satisfies our need to receive and bestow affection and nurturing; to give and be given assurances of value, respect, acceptance and appreciation; and to feel secure in our unity with, and belonging to, a particular, family.”

He identifies three types of love – parental [Skin Love], social [Kin Love] and romantic [In Love] – and says that maternal love (or similar) is a prerequisite for survival.

Anthony cites studies involving children who suffered love deprivation and lack of physical contact. The results indicate that they were vulnerable to a host of diseases, that their intelligence was lower and that their rates of criminal behavior and mental illness were higher.

An impressive example of the power of love comes from the study of dwarfism as observed in the children of alcoholic and abusive parents. Anthony demonstrated with research that these children began to grow normally when placed in more loving environments.”
Excerpt from Soul Mates – Discovering Sharing & Loving

The second component of Skin Love is tenderness & interaction – the emotional connection and interaction with mother or the caregiver – which also impacts the recognition, understanding and development of self and of others. This refers to the imitation of actions also.

“If the mother was depressed and therefore not emotionally engaging with the baby, those babies are at risk because those babies are not learning about themselves. Babies get used to the one person that’s most familiar, so if you’re with a depressed mother who has low responsiveness, those babies will be most responsive to those who are least responsive, so they’re perpetuating a risk factor for themselves.”
– Ann Bigelow, professor and researcher of developmental psychology at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada

“Emotional communication is of cardinal importance in the development of the brain. Early development can be halted or distorted by an emotionally deficient caregiving environment or by cues that are abnormal, as might occur in maltreatment.”
– World Health Organization, “The importance of caregiver-child interactions for the survival and healthy development of young children”

Skin Love also impacts the self-concepts of lovability, worthiness and deservedness:

“Infants receive their first messages of their lovableness and worth through the medium of the skin. The pleasure received in mother’s arms sends love messages swinging from synapse to synapse in the neuronal jungle to lodge itself in those special places in the brain reserved for it. The infant’s subconscious neuronal “memory tapes” recorded at this time are reinforced later as it receives conscious messages relating that he or she is loved and valued or that he or she is not. Lacking the capacity to do otherwise, children accept unquestionably the messages communicated to them by their parents which has a way of attaching itself indelibly in our brains by experience-dependent wiring. The ease with which children learn basic information is why childhood lessons, whether painful or pleasurable, have a way of intruding into their thoughts and behavior for the rest of their lives. If their messages assure them that they are loved they will feel worthwhile, and will be able to extend that love to others. If those messages were otherwise, they will not feel worthwhile and loving themselves and others will prove difficult for them. The unloved child will grow up to be an adult with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem does not diminish the need for love. Indeed, individuals who have a poor opinion of themselves are starving for love.
– Anthony Walsh, “Love – The Biology Behind The Heart”

As I have explained in other articles, children believe that they are the center of the universe – they cause and create the world around them. Children will blame themselves for a parent’s divorce; children will believe they are responsible for mom or dad’s unhappiness and they will then conclude that they are bad, unlovable or unworthy.

How does this originate?

Again, via the messages of love or the lack of love messages.

‘One of the things infants learn early in life is that their actions affect others’ responses – they sense that they’re active agents in their environment…They learn that probably most readily through other people because people are responsive to babies. Babies catch on very quickly that their actions get a predictable response – you know, “I smile, Mom smiles back” – not all the time but most of the time. They develop a sense that “I’m a causal agent.”’ – Ann Bigelow, professor and researcher of developmental psychology at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada

“Love is not merely theologically or philosophically desirable, but it is also a biological and psychological necessity” – Anthony Walsh

Understanding the significance of Skin Love in infancy and childhood and the way it impacts physical, psychological and behavioral health should alert one to understand that it, too, plays an extraordinarily significant and critical role in the wellbeing of adults: Skin Love cannot be isolated only to parental-child relationships – Skin Love should be expressed in adult romantic relationships as well.

If you need assistance to overcome limiting beliefs about being lovable and worthy, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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