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Massage For Children: Benefits and Guidelines

Child Receiving a Leg Massage | Massage For Children

Massage for children can provide nurturing touch that helps them develop into well-adjusted adults. Plus, research has shown that the benefits of pediatric massage include reducing stress, anxiety, and chronic pain and promoting better sleep.

I once had a client who told me that when her son was young and started to have an asthma attack, she would massage his back. She was sure the massage saved them many trips to the emergency room.

Guidelines For Massaging Children

Here are just a few guidelines for child massage, adapted from the article "Touching the Future: Gentle Massage for Children" by Shay Beider of Integrative Touch for Kids.

Ask children if they want a massage, and do massage only with their OK.

Understand how the bodies of children are different from adult bodies. For example, it's easier to overstimulate children, because they have more touch receptors than adults. 

Be aware of the child's level of psychological development and explain massage in an age-appropriate way that the child can understand. 

Other factors to take into consideration:

  • 15 to 20 minutes is usually more than enough time for a young kid's massage.
  • Make sure the child is in a comfortable position for massage.
  • Adjust your pressure to the child's comfort.
  • Usually, kids will find a slower massage more appealing than a vigorous one.
  • Do not massage a sick child without the OK of a healthcare provider.

Also, see massage for babies.

Massage Techniques For Children

More Information About Massage For Children

For parents who want to massage their children, the following books offer instruction:

Healing Touch for Children: Massage, Acupressure and Reflexology Routine for Children Aged 4-12

Tui Na Massage for a Healthier, Brighter Child

Swedish Child Massage: A Family Guide to Nurturing Touch

If you are a massage therapist or healthcare professional who wants to learn pediatric massage, Liddle Kidz offers training, or see the textbook Pediatric Massage Therapy by Marybetts Sinclair.

Here's an article about massage for children with cancer.

You can also combine massage with using essential oils for children.

For children with autism:

Easing Autistic Behaviors with Massage Therapy

Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers


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