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. 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.

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:

We also created a printable file that you may find helpful:


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.

She’s the editor of and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.

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