A positive way of touching is important for children. Especially for those children who have experienced negative forms of touch or the lack of touch. Children who are adopted have experienced separation from their biological parents and have spent time in an orphanage or foster care. Because of this, there is a chance that their fundamental sense of safety and trust has not or barely been formed. When children are adopted, they leave all the familiar sights and smells of their environment. It is then that positive touch can be meaningful and offer the possibility for the body to “form” itself again.
The bond between parents and child is the basis for a child’s development. A child needs to feel safe and protected. The sense of safety develops during the baby and toddler phases.
Applying this form of massage is one of the positive and pleasant ways in which you can help children build a sense of trust. The massage gives parents another way to interact with the child. In a simple, direct manner, parents learn a good way of making contact through touch. This conscious and positive touch stimulates the production the hormone, oxytocin. This hormone leads to a sense of security, offers protection, and strengthens the bond between parent and child.
Accepting the child’s boundaries means that his/her trust increases. Regardless of the child’s age (0 to 18 years), the extent of the massage can be built up and expanded step by step.
The course Shantala Massage for Adopted Children is offered by professional instructors who are members of the VSD. The course is given on an individual basis because each child has a different background and it is important to be able to customise the lessons to each unique situation. The course consists of 3 lessons with each lesson being 1-1/2 hours.
In addition, a group course for prospective adoption parents is offered 2 times a year. This course consists of 2 evenings of 2 hours. This is practical preparation in order to be able to make good contact through touch from day 1. During this course, other relevant topics will be discussed in addition to learning the massage: crying and sleeping behaviour, lifting techniques, how to carry the child in a supportive manner and book tips.
After following the course, a parent/caregiver will be able to give their child Shantala massage at any given moment, for any age and situation. Whether on bare skin or over clothing. This means the massage can be easily performed and is a valuable addition to daily life within the family.
A few VSD instructors have followed continuing education regarding Shantala massage for children who are adopted. They offer courses that are customised to the child and his/her parents/caregivers.