Now woke psychologists warn against TICKLING children – here’s the bizarre reason why
- Experts say it is common for the playful sensation to cause pain
- Children may be laughing as a nervous reflex and unable to stop the tickling
- READ MORE: Do you laugh in your sleep? It could be a serious health issue
Adults should think twice before tickling a child, experts have warned.
Researchers say that when some parents initiate the playful behavior sensation, they are doing so because of subsconscious ‘sadistic impulses.’
While tickling will make most children laugh, studies shows it makes some uncomfortable and that the laughter may only be a nervous reflex.
Dr Carole Lieberman, a forensic psychiatrist from Beverly Hills in California, who has been an expert witness in child abuse cases, recently warned that tickling can interfere with children’s concepts of physical boundaries.
While tickling will make most children laugh, research shows it makes some uncomfortable and that the laughter may only be a nervous reflex
‘If they don’t enjoy it and the tickling continues anyway,’ she told the website Kars4Kids Parenting.
‘It has the potentially negative effect of making children feel as though they don’t have the right to have boundaries about who touches them and how.’
Some children are ‘uncomfortable with surprises’, but may be egged on by the child’s laughter. Dr Lieberman adds: ‘We laugh or smile as an automatic reaction to tickling, not necessarily because we’re enjoying it. This, unfortunately, gives the tickler the wrong impression, when, in fact, we aren’t enjoying it and want them to stop.’
Dr Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author, echoed Dr Lieberman’s concerns.
He told Kars4Kids that some children who are ‘exquisitely sensitive’ can find tickling painful.
‘When there are two people involved, it must feel good to both. If it feels good to you to tickle your youngster and it brings pain or discomfort to your child then you need to examine your own sadistic impulses.
‘If your child asks you to stop, then STOP. You must respect your child’s word and voice with the same weight that you would from your spouse or anyone else you love.’
Tickling was used as a form of torture in ancient China and Rome, and a type of tickling is still used as punishment in Japan
The experts say that the downsides of tickling come with the imbalance of power. The tickler has the upper hand, while the person being tickled is powerless.
One 1997 study suggested that most people don’t enjoy being tickled, and it only looks like they do because they are laughing.
Some parenting commentators have highlighted that tickling has been used as a form of torture in some ancient cultures. The Han Dynasty court in China used tickling to punish nobles, as it leaves no mark and has a swift recovery.
Romans also used tickling as torture, and would incentivize goats to lick people’s feet by dipping their toes in salt.
More recently, Kusuguri-zeme, which translates to ‘merciless tickling’, was a popular form of torture in Japan.
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