5 Reasons Why Tickling Kids Is Not Okay!

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Do you enjoy being tickled? In truth, I’ve met few people who would firmly answer “yes” to this question. And while it seems not too much of a problem, you can have trust issues because of childhood tickling. Sounds crazy, but there’s plenty of reasons for that, and science explained why tickling kids is not okay.

1. Tickling kids Is Dominant

When you tickle your kids, it looks like you’re having lots of fun together, laughing and rolling, then writhing to get away from your fingers. And it’s exactly this reaction that can be harmful in the long run. You see, when you’re the tickler, you get full control of the situation, especially with little kids. You’re much bigger and stronger than they are, and it’s easy for you to catch and continue tickling them.

The child, on the other hand, is in the submissive position, since they’re not able to get away from you even if they want to. All in all, it might seem an innocent game, but there’s a lesson to be learned here, and it’s probably not one you’re gonna like: the child might easily get an impression (that will last them their whole life) that tickling is a way to subdue them. Such kids may well grow up to be adults who flinch at the slightest hint at tickling. You don’t want that for your baby, now, do you?

2. Kids might not be able to say “stop.”

Have you ever laughed so hard you couldn’t catch your breath and started gasping? Well, when you laugh because of the tickles, it’s almost guaranteed to you. The child can’t stop laughing if you go on tickling them, and at some point, they simply become unable to say anything, getting red in the face and struggling even to breathe. When this happens, a game is no longer a game. The kid can’t tell you to stop, and you continue just because they’re laughing so hard you think they’re enjoying it. In fact, though, it’s a pretty much foolproof way to cause panic in the child, because they can’t take control over the situation. It pays to know when to finish the game and let your baby boy or girl go.

3. Ticklish laughter isn’t real laughter.

You might think that smiling and giggling are self-explanatory, but with tickling it’s not so easy. A study was conducted at the University of California in 1997 that proved there is no connection between ticklish laughter and genuine laughter. When you’re being tickled, you laugh because you can’t help it; it’s more of a reflex, like a knee-jerk reaction. With genuine laughter, it’s absolutely the opposite: you laugh because you want to, and you’re not forced to do it. Genuine laughter creates happy feelings and gives rise to dopamine levels in your body, while ticklish laughter is just an illusion that a person is happy.
So consider this when you tickle your kid next time — perhaps they don’t even like it at all?

4. Tickling was a method of extracting information once.

Now this is way too unexpected, I know, but if you think of it, this makes perfect sense. Let me ask you a question: do you know how much tickling you can endure? Give me your answers in the comments, I really want to know! If you’ve never thought about it, though, then picture this: in different countries and at different times, tickling was used to force information from people. Believe me, it only sounds stupid for the first few minutes. When you’re constantly tickled for hours on end without any means to escape, that’s no joke.

Remember I told you that kids might be unable to say “stop” because they lack the breath for that? Well, adults experience tickles in the same way, so I guess you can imagine what kind of feelings those poor souls being interrogated had. I’d probably confess to anything just to make it stop. It was as early as in 1939 that Yngve Zotterman from the Karolinska Institute found out tickling depended in part on the same nerve fibers as pain sensation. That means if you tickle someone, you might easily bring it to the point where it becomes unpleasant and even painful. Many researchers also point out that tickling can be considered a form of physical abuse. So it’s not all fun and games, after all.

5. Tickling can cause trust issues in adulthood

When you tickle your kids, you don’t think it will do them any harm, but in fact, it could lead to a deep psychological trauma. Parenting expert Patty Wipfler says that, when recalling traumatic experience from their childhood, adults talk about tickling often. Some were tickled by their parents in a form of a game; others by their siblings, sometimes with not such a good intent. In any case, for those adults who suffered from it as kids, tickling has become a thing they instinctively fear.

There are surprisingly many people who feel uncomfortable when touched by another person, even a close one. In more severe cases, people get stiff and tense when someone as much as makes a move to touch them. This psychological barrier is not something you can easily get rid of, and it takes its roots from childhood.

5 Reasons Why Tickling Kids Is Not Okay! Summary

  • When you’re the tickler, you get full control of the situation, especially with little kids. The child, on the other hand, is in the submissive position since they’re not able to get away from you even if they want to.
  • The child can’t stop laughing if you go on tickling them, and at some point, they simply become unable to say anything, getting red in the face and struggling even to breathe.
  • A study was conducted at the University of California in 1997 that proved there is no connection between ticklish laughter and genuine laughter. When you’re being tickled, you laugh because you can’t help it; it’s more of a reflex, like a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Picture this: in different countries and at different times, tickling was used to force information from people. It only sounds stupid for the first few minutes. When you’re constantly tickled for hours on end without any means to escape, that’s no joke.
  • Tickling depended in part on the same nerve fibers as pain sensation. That means if you tickle someone, you might easily bring it to the point where it becomes unpleasant and even painful.
  • Parenting expert Patty Wipfler says that, when recalling traumatic experience from their childhood, adults talk about tickling often. Some were tickled by their parents in a form of a game; others by their siblings, sometimes with not such a good intent.
  • Some children ask their parents to tickle them not because they like it but because it’s the only way to make the parents play with them.
  • Still, even tickling can be made into a real game for the two of you. It’s quite simple: just pretend that you’re about to tickle your kid but don’t do it.

That way, you’ll bring up a healthy and happy child, and that’s what every parent wants, isn’t it?