To tickle or not to tickle?


Tickling is such a touchy subject, I know some will disagree but hopefully this will help some of you to look at it from a different angle. All I know is that I personally hate tickling, I have bad memories about it from my childhood, I can’t stand anyone even hinting at trying to tickle me. Do I want my kids to have the same memories in the future? Definitely not, so we don’t abuse tickling in our house and only do it for a short while if kids ask for it. There are other wonderful alternatives to family bonding like this great article from HandinHand Parenting explains.

Follow the link and get inspired to try something else instead:

“Tickling is one of those customary kinds of play that is handed down from generation to generation through our families. It is rarely questioned, but deserves to be thought about more carefully, as it’s a form of play that can, despite good intentions, hurt a child.

To put tickling in a broader framework, it’s one of the ways to play that puts people in touch with each other. It also is a dependable way to get lots of laughter rolling. So tickling looks, on the surface, like a kind of play that children enjoy, and that is good for them. And indeed, some children ask their parents for tickling games. We are glad to be asked—it feels great to have an instant way to laugh and be playful together.

But in my many years of listening to adults talk about the emotional challenges of their lives as children, tickling comes up again and again as an experience that has been hurtful. I’ve listened to a number of adults who can’t relax when others are in close proximity to them. They can’t sleep close to a trusted partner, for instance, or are internally on guard any time there’s more than casual touching between them and someone they love.

The main thing that makes tickling problematic is that children may not be able to say when they want it to stop.”


2 thoughts on “To tickle or not to tickle?

  1. we do “red light” + “green light” with our tickling. my daughter gets to say green light when she wants it to start and red light when she wants it to stop. it’s actually a whole lot more fun when she is in charge and she belly laughs like crazy since she gets to be in control of the fun.

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