Things My 7 Year Old Could Teach You About Being a Massage Client

This post ends my wicked long blog writing drought. YAY! Come along and read awhile…

Nope.Likethis...Kiddo: Mom? Can you scratch my back?

Me: Scratch it? Like with what’s left of my nails? Not lightly like I usually do?

Kiddo: Yeah. My back.

(I start scratching his back)

Me: Like this?

Kiddo: Yeah. But up more.

Me: Here?

Kiddo: Yeah. Now to the…left? Yeah…the left.

Me: Here?

Kiddo: Yeeeeaaah. There. (sigh)

Every night before he falls asleep, I rub Kiddo’s back. Not so much because it’s a massage therapist thing but because it’s a mom (or dad or aunt or uncle or grandma or grandpa or human…) thing. Usually it’s a light, feathery touch. That’s Kiddo’s fav. What we massage therapists might refer to as nerve strokes. Some nights it’s full hand, smooth, slow strokes. Not deep but it has a fuller, warmer feeling. That’s good stuff right there. Sometimes we do deep compressions. Kiddo usually requests that it be his back, but sometimes he requests face massage. Or arm. Or leg.

Never all over. Never predictable. Never the same.

And what I always find so refreshing about these little “sessions” is how his direction guides me. It has never occurred to him that “Well, gosh. My mom is a Soothe massage therapist (Yes, that’s what he calls me. Yes, I think that’s fantastic.) and an expert so I should let her tell me what I need.” Never. He starts the session and gently, politely voices what he wants from each evening’s precious time.

Well, usually he’s gentle and polite. He is 7 after all. But you get the idea. The point is that he knows how he wants the massage to feel and he makes that clear. There are days I’m just not understanding what he’s getting at and we have to talk to out, try a few things and see how it goes. It’s a collaboration. I’m massaging with him, not at him.

He also knows his comfort matters

Not only does Kiddo direct on pressure and where he’d like bodywork, but he also makes sure he is comfortable. “Hold on, Mom…(turns his head, stretches his neck, bends an arm, settles down)…okay. Can you do some more? My back again?”

See, what’s sorta awesome about kiddos in general is how they just seriously can’t understand why you’d want to stay uncomfortable for any amount of time beyond, say, right NOW. So they say it. Or move. Right then, right there. Or if something is absolutely perfect, they say that, too. Right then, right there. That’s a kid for ya.

But why does that go away? Sure, kids might blurt and be abrupt sometimes. They just haven’t perfected tact. Give it time. (And then just a tad bit more. Be patient.) Have you ever had a massage where you didn’t like how it felt or your body position wasn’t ideal and didn’t say anything until the session was over (or not at all)?

Now, what good does that do? I’m tellin’ you. The kids are onto something.

This doesn’t mean you have to give constant feedback/play-by-play of how the session is panning out. But I would argue that speaking up before your arm falls asleep from how it’s bent or mentioning that blinding pain I just accidentally caused to your calf when I couldn’t see your oh-so-pained facial expression while you swore my name up and down and sideways would be most beneficial. To both of us. I betcha.

Sure, Sometimes Mom/Massage Therapist Knows Best

Kiddo: Moooooom. My head hurts.

Me: Okay, can I try something? If it’s uncomfortable, say so, ‘kay?

Kiddo: Yup.

Me: I’m going to have my hands on your neck, okay?

Kiddo: But I said my head hurt.

Me: I know. Can you trust me for a second? Tell me if the pain changes? More or less?

Kiddo: ‘Kay. But why my neck?

Me: Because your neck holds your head. I’ll explain more in a minute, honest. But I will explain. I’ll show you some pictures.

And I’ll explain. Just like I would to any of my clients.  And he asked why I was going to do what I did, just like I would expect from any of my clients. Especially if I work an area in an unexpected way. And trust me, it sticks with him just like it would with you all. For a 7 year old, he has a pretty good understanding of human musculature and bodywork.

But that’s the point, huh? He does have a decent understanding because he’s being a kid about it. Making sure he makes his feelings and thoughts heard about the session when I can still make adaptations, respecting and responding to his own comfort, asking questions when he’s confused and then learning.

Huh. Being a kid as a client is pretty fantastic.

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4 Responses to Things My 7 Year Old Could Teach You About Being a Massage Client

  1. Barry says:

    Jenn this is terrific. I will have to tackle this subject on my own blog. Good work :)

  2. Christina says:

    Interestingly, wayyy back when my boys were little, before I ever thought about it or had a massage, they would ask me to rub their back in the light, feathery, neuro strokes. They would abruptly ask, “Mumma tickle my back please”. I was happy when my son, who is on the autism spectrum, started to ask for massages more often. You hit it spot on, kids know what they need to help soothe them!!

    • Jenn says:

      I *loved* when my mom would do that. Kids know the soothing effect of touch from day 1. How is it we come to view it as a luxury later on? Weird, eh?

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