We all love stories, when combined with the simple massage strokes, stories present wonderful opportunities for creativity and interaction. Story massage involves the use of easy-to-follow massage strokes associated with spoken words that help to build up an engaging story. The strokes are shown on shoulders, back, arms and head. They can easily be adapted for hands, feet, legs and face as appropriate. No oil is used, and children do not remove any clothes. Movements and stories can be adapted to suit the individual needs of children of varying ages, abilities, personalities, and temperaments.
Benefits of story massage for children
Story massage offers a simple, fun and interactive way of sharing the benefits of positive touch with children of all ages and abilities. The benefits will obviously vary depending on the situation, whether at home, in the classroom or other locations, and also the responses and particular needs of the individual child.
Benefits include –
- The relaxation of the mind and body, easing tension and the cumulative effects of stress.
- The promotion of “feel good” hormones including oxytocin, which helps to boost general well-being
- The opportunity for children to experience dedicated “calming time”.
- Learning the essential life skill of conscious relaxation through firs-hand experience of the benefits of recharging and refreshing mind and body.
- Improved alertness and concentration
- Reduction of aggressive and hyperactive behaviour
- An increased sensitivity by children of how their own actions and emotions can influence those of others
- Increased self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-esteem
- An alternative and engaging way of encouraging children to practically engage in experiences that provide a context for the use of emotional language
- Individual attention that enhances a child’s awareness of being valued, and brings a sense of self-worth.
- A fun way for families and friends to share time together and connect with each other
- The opportunity to encourage children to develop their imagination
© Sandra Hooper and Mary Atkinson, Co-Founders of the Story Massage Programme
What is Story Massage for babies/children
The Story Massage Programme for babies is done fully clothed and no oil is used. Parents learn ten simple massage strokes which are used to describe words. For example, parents might use a big circular massage movement to illustrate the sun is shining, or a walking massage movement to illustrate a bear. Once these basic strokes are learnt, they can be used to share positive touch through a whole variety of stories, rhymes and songs.
Stories are handed down from generation to generation and can be used as a valuable tool for education and therapeutic encounter. Often without even realising it, we think in the narrative and make sense of our world and our experiences through stories from a very young age. Combined with the benefits of positive touch, storytelling can present opportunities for creative learning, engagement and communication for people of all ages and abilities.
Each week, I will read a story or sing a theme song as we use the different massage strokes while a story is being told, . We repeat each song about 2-3 times as this gives you the opportunity to memorise the words and the strokes, and the repetition encourages relaxation and language development for the babies/children
Do you use any props?
Using props such as cuddly toys when telling a story can be fun or sensory props such as bubbles, feathers or soft brushes can give a variation to touch other than parent’s hands. Babies/children often enjoy the use of these props, with the tone of story being told
What are the benefits of Massage Stories for babies/children
The Story Massage Programme can help with physical, emotional and social development:
- Massage stories allow parents to continue to offer nurturing massage as the child grows. It is a life-long skill that they can use for many years.
- Repetition of songs and stories encourages anticipation, development of language skills, focus and concentration, communication, turn taking and socialising skills.
- Research (taken from The Touch Institute, Miami) has proven that children who learn healthy views of touch and are provided with tactile experience by a parent or carers are more likely to grow up with a healthy self-image, a sense of appropriate boundaries and long lasting intimate relationships.
- Babies/children and parents enjoy the fun, creativity, and interaction of positive touch through the Story Massage Programme.
What you need
No oil is used and it is not necessary to remove any clothes. Story Massage strokes can be given anywhere on the body that is easily accessible and appropriate such as the back, legs, head, hands and feet.
For babies we just ask that you bring a blanket or pillow for your baby to lie on.
Guidance and instructions
Before we begin please take note of our three suggested guidelines:
1) Show respect: The importance of asking for and gaining consent is at the core of the story massage programme. In whatever way possible, ensure the recipient is happy to receive your touch. Equally, at the end of the massage story, the giver will thank the recipient for the chance to share the massage story with them.
2) Caution – Always take into consideration the individual needs and preferences of each child or adult and share a massage story accordingly.
3) Fun – This should be a positive touch activity so please enjoy!
Please remember we always seek consent before we begin
Example of a Story Time Massage