There’s been a lot of talk about story massage for children recently. But what is it? And what are the benefits? This blog feature written by Mary Atkinson, award-winning author of Healing Touch for Children offers a simple explanation.
What is Story Massage?
All children love a story and when combined with the benefits of simpleÂ massage, Â there are wonderful opportunities for creative and therapeutic interaction. Story Massage involves the use of simple movements (through clothes), which are associated with words.Â Story Massage is an easy and fun way of introducing the benefits of touch through a powerful combination of storytelling and simple massage strokes. Â Tracing a large circle on a childâ€™s back, for example, can depict the image of the sun while scratching fingers can represent a lionâ€™s claws. Sharing positive touch offers much scope for creative activity, fun and learning for children of all ages and abilities.
Story Massage strokes concentrate on shoulders, back, arms, head and face which are all areas which are easily accessible and where we tend to hold a great deal of tension. No oil is used for story massage, and children do not need to remove any clothes.Â Techniques are safe and suitable for all ages from children to the elderly and can be adapted to suit all personalities and temperaments. Nurturing touch through storytelling can be especially beneficial for children with special/additional needs.
Children can be encouraged to use their imagination to create and participate in their own story massages with themes including favourite story and nursery rhymes, visits to the park, farm or museum, weather, a birthday celebration, baking a cake or pizza… and many, many more ideas. They can also be encouraged to draw pictures which help them relate to the massage.
Benefits of Story Massage
Itâ€™s not easy being a child in the 21stÂ Century with so many daily pressures and expectations.Â All too often this leads to tension and arguments in the family home and classroom that have a detrimental impact on health and well-being. Sharing positive touch can help relieve stress and aid communication between parent and child, grandparent and child, or child and child, offering a way of reconnecting with each other and sharing valuable time together.
The benefits of positive touch for children are backed by extensive research from The Massage in Schools Association
and Touch Research Institute Miami
with findings including relaxation of mind and body, increased confidence and self-esteem, building of trust and respect. Schools report increased concentration and less bullying and aggression when children share simple story massage with each other.
Story Massage is fun and interactive. It offers a way of learning and communicating through play and positive interaction with others. Â There is also an educational element as story massage can be used to fit in with the national curriculum. Many children have learnt numbers, history, letters through story massage when used in schools as part of the Massage in Schools Programme.
Story massage is currently being used worldwide in a variety of settings including home, school, after-school clubs, family centres, hospices, special schools. To see a video of an example of story massage click here: Story Massage for Children Video.
Some examples of Story Massage in Action
- In tsunami-destroyed Rikuzentakata families Â found that using a combination of story telling with simple massage movements Â helped in their recovery from the trauma. Read more here: Story Massage for Tsunami Children
- The charity Chernobyl Childrenâ€™s Lifeline recognise the benefits of story massage in encouraging bonding between children visiting from the Ukraine and their host families in the UK. Read more here: Story Massage for Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline
- Bohunt School, Liphook enjoyed a Story Massage assembly which helped to forge a link with the children of Japan. Read more here: Story Massage at Bohunt School
Would you like to learn more about Story Massage?
Mary Atkinson is an instructor on the Massage in Schools Programme and has successfully introduced story massage not only in the UK but also in Eire and Japan. Her experiences of the benefits of story massage inspired Mary to write a day course entitled â€˜Positive Touch for Childrenâ€™ which has now been accredited by the Federation of Holistic TherapistsÂ and is proving popular with parents and teachers from a wide variety of backgrounds. For more information please contact Mary Atkinson.