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Covid-19: between children and grandparents, a tenderness without contact



“With us, it’s four. Well… it was four ”, sighs Josée, 65, recalling with nostalgia the memory of the kisses that smack happily and her grandchildren, “That we want to kiss like good bread”.

Kisses now seem to belong to a bygone era, replaced by hand signs, smiles. But they don’t make up for the lack of physical contact. “I miss the kisses, says Max, 9 years old. It makes me sad not to have the right to kiss my grandparents anymore, even though I know it’s for their good. “

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The sudden disappearance of kisses revealed the importance of these physical displays. “We realize how vital it is for us to touch and be touched, confirms psychotherapist Cécile Guéret. Numerous scientific studies have proven that physical contact is essential for a child’s development. In fact, it is at any age. “

A physiological need for physical contact

Of course, the exchanges go through other channels, for some even reinforced by the situation. “This absence can be partly compensated by the other senses, continues Cécile Guéret. Some have managed to recreate privacy via a screen. “

None of these tools, however, seem able to compensate for the lack of physical contact. “It’s like we’re cut off from a part of ourselves, assures Fabienne Martin-Juchat, professor of communication sciences at the University of Grenoble-Alpes (1). Human communication actually relies heavily on the body. “ The psychoanalyst Saverio Tomasella adds: “Physical contact is essential to our health. Touch causes the secretion of feel-good hormones. “

An impact that is difficult to measure

Difficult to measure the impact of these “contactless” months on human relations. “We have created an anxiety of touch, a fear of the other, deplores Fabienne Martin-Juchat. What will be the repercussions, especially for young people? What relationship skills will they have? Screens only arouse projected emotions, nothing can replace physical experience. “

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For his part, Saverio Tomasella wants to believe that this period is only temporary. “These physical expressions of affection cannot disappear, otherwise we will get sick”, he believes. While waiting to be able to kiss without posing a threat, he invites everyone to reinvent gestures of affection: “ A touch of the elbow, the shoulder… ” A contact, even the smallest, so as not to break the link.

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