I always pat my kids--their legs, heads, and hands. I think kids are calmer when their parents or caregivers touch them. Debra Moore, PhD. repeats my thoughts:
Children instinctively initiate and seek out touch when they need it. In fact, the absence of this behavior is a red flag for possible neurological damage or a possible history of abuse. As we grow older, we may begin to receive less and less touch. We may hesitate to initiate it ourselves. We may come to associate touch exclusively with sexuality. We forget that we still need touch as much as we did when we were youngsters.
Is this why adults enjoy massages so much? It also makes me wonder if some kids seek out touch, but in inappropriate ways and then get in trouble.
Petting my children does calm them and put them to sleep. It is relaxing and I love it as well. Lately, Ty has began "pepping" me as he pats me. He touches my hair or rubs my back. It is adorable, and I it makes me love being a mommy.