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Innate reflexes are the insurance of survival for newborns. From a bodily point of view, without a doubt the sucking reflex is the great protagonist, since it guarantees feeding, but what about from an affective point of view? To ensure the protection of its parents, the baby has the innate reflex to grasp with the hands (even with the feet). Holding the child's hand is always a response to his need for security and affection.
This innate dictation has made me reflect on the current and shocking case of Sabrina, the Haitian girl who was rescued after the earthquake and who kept in her fist the finger of someone who had given her a hand so that she would not feel alone, before being trapped in the rubble. This gesture in the life of the little girl, starkly reminds us how important hand contact is to express love and give security.
All babies, when they are learning to walk, are afraid of walking alone, of falling, and they resist taking a step away from the chair, the car or the wall on which they are leaning. Unless an adult shakes their hand. Then they set off with a confidence that borders on recklessness: we see them go down (rather throw themselves) down the stairs or curbs on the sidewalks. Feeling held by a strong hand gives them total confidence to face what they are unable to do alone. It has also been medically proven that people experiencing painful illnesses feel physically relieved when a loved one (a parent, husband or wife) shakes their hand.
We are all familiar with the image of a woman who grasps her husband's hand during childbirth and crushes it while pushing, this being more helpful than holding onto a cold iron handle of the delivery table. Likewise, shaking hands is one of the best tokens of love for lovers. The open hand is a symbol of offering, help and closeness. It is as if the door to our heart is located in the palm of the hand. By holding hands with our children (or couples) we transmit security and affection. There are only two gestures as significant as this: the hug and the kiss. Let's reach out to our children ... and to each other.
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