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How to give a simple hand massage: healing touch builds connection when recovering from an eating disorder

How to give a simple hand massage: healing touch builds connection when recovering from an eating disorder

When our children are suffering with an eating disorder, they need connection and support from their parents. We can make a big difference in their recovery by connecting on multiple levels and providing a safe home environment in which to recover.

We have previously discussed watching videos together and trying some yoga poses. And we have emotional regulation sheets that you can do with your child. Another nice option is hand massage. As our children grow, they are figuring out how to separate from us and become independent adults. But they are still our children, and they still crave our loving touch. To avoid any awkward sense of dependence or any hint of sexuality, we can utilize hand massages with children of any age and gender to build connection and deliver healing touch.

Emotional Regulation Worksheets

Give these printable worksheets to grow more confident, calm and resilient and feel better, fast!

  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Regulation
  • Mindfulness
  • Calming strategies

Touch therapy has been increasingly recognized as an important, though poorly understood (from a scientific standpoint) healing treatment. One of the best documented cases for touch being an effective therapy (and one that is exquisitely designed for the parent-child relationship), is Kangaroo Care, which is an increasingly medically prescribed treatment for premature infants. Numerous medical studies have linked skin-to-skin contact between a premature infant and a caregiver to reduced pain, reduced stress, and myriad other benefits that can drastically improve outcomes for premature babies.

Providing a hand massage for just 5 minutes is an excellent way to slow down and provide focused touch-based caregiving. When our children were little, we hugged and snuggled them. We held their hands when they crossed the street, and they sat on our laps while we read them stories. As teenagers, our children don’t get touched as much, but they still crave it. For our children who have eating disorders, touch can be a good way to reconnect their body-mind circuit, which is an important part of healing.

Here is a good video overview of how to provide a simple hand massage:

Here are the steps, according to

  1. Open the hand
  2. Gently extend thumbs up the palm
  3. Rub palm in circular pattern with thumbs
  4. Rotate the hand upward as you rub the palm
  5. Gently clasp hand
  6. Gently rub back of the hand bones
  7. Rub between thumb and wrist area
  8. Rub hand in circular pattern
  9. Gently press palm and fingers backwards

Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to help their kids recover from eating disorders, body image issues, and other mental health conditions.  She’s the founder of, an online resource supporting parents who have kids with eating disorders, and a Parent Coach who helps parents who have kids with mental health issues.

Ginny has been researching and writing about eating disorders since 2016. She incorporates the principles of neurobiology and attachment parenting with a non-diet, Health At Every Size® approach to health and recovery.

1 thought on “How to give a simple hand massage: healing touch builds connection when recovering from an eating disorder

  1. […] your child is anxious and upset, offer to give them a simple hand massage. This takes no skill whatsoever, but it is a powerful way to tap into their primal need to be loved […]

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