Interactions between children and adults provide opportunities for children to build trust, to develop an understanding of self and others, and to encourage respect for the feelings and rights of others. All interactions between children and adults will be respectful and supportive of each child’s gender, culture, language, ethnicity and family composition.  

Appropriate Touch with Children  

Positive touch is an important part of healthy brain development in young children. Touch reduces stress, aids in healthy emotional development, and demonstrates love for the children in our care. Appropriate touch is defined as non-intrusive and causing no feelings of discomfort or confusion for children. Such contact should also not cause feelings of discomfort or confusion for caregivers. Each child should be allowed to determine what kinds of touches he or she finds acceptable.


  1. Adults will greet each child to acknowledge that they belong in the classroom.
  2. Adults will actively listen to children and observe non-verbal communication.
  3. Adults will physically place themselves at the child’s eye level while interacting.
  4. Adults will encourage children to talk about their feelings.
  5. Adults will use language and materials free from ethnic and gender bias.
  6. Adults will stimulate critical thinking skills and cognitive concepts by using open-ended questioning, modeling and other appropriate communication strategies.
  7. Adults will demonstrate respect and caring for children in all interaction, giving reinforcement for children’s efforts.
  8. Staff will make every effort to include persons in the classroom who speak the primary language of each child and are knowledgeable about their culture.

So that touch is used appropriately with children, staff and volunteers are asked the following:

  1. Physical contact is valuable to children. Let the child lead in showing you what kind of touch is acceptable to him or her.
  2. In general, avoid using touch with children if you are the only supervising adult. If possible, have another adult present.
  3. Ask permission before touching children. If the child says no, then refrain from hugging him/her. Be aware that a child may be uncomfortable saying no to an adult. Read the child’s body language to gauge the child’s comfort level.
  4. Try to touch nonvulnerable body parts only, such as the shoulders, back, arms, and hands. Likewise, avoid vulnerable body parts, such as the chest, and genitals. Be aware of the cultural considerations when touching children. What is acceptable in some cultures is prohibited in others. Again, let the child lead.
  5. Be aware of the child’s activity level and do not interrupt the child’s engaged play with touch.
  6. Understand that a child’s need for physical contact varies individually. Get to know each child and determine what kind of touch is appropriate.
  7. If you must touch a child’s vulnerable areas-such as during diapering-tell the child which parts you are touching and why. Use the proper names for body parts.
  8. It is not appropriate for teachers/staff to kiss children.

This policy complies with Head Start Performance Standard 45CFR Section 1302.30, 1302.21(a)
It was approved by Policy Council on April 8, 1997.
Updated July 26, 1999. November 15, 2000, June 29, 2007, September 11, 2007. June 2008. July 2017

© 1995-2010. Head Start of Lane County. All rights reserved.

REVIEWED: May 2021