ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Teaching Children How to Self Comfort

Updated on May 22, 2012

Most children in foster care treatment do not know how to self comfort. Some learned how, but their efforts could not match the stressors they experienced in their family. Comforting behaviors are generally learned at a very early age. How the primary caretaker takes care of the child is the very start of a child’s comfort experience. It is from the primary care taker that the child not only gets the comfort that every human being needs, but the learning on how to comfort themselves.

Imagine an infant in her crib, crying, wet, hungry, and no one comes to care for her for several hours. In most cases, these children will eventually go to sleep to find relief from their discomfort (read: pain). While going to sleep is the only thing the baby can do, and it is effective, it does not qualify as self comforting. It is simply a way to avoid the pain of not being comforted. This process, repeated over and over for years adds up to a child who does not know how to self comfort, and when emotional pain strikes, does what they have to in order to avoid pain. On top of that, the child, deeply angry about not being comforted as needed, may reject other’s attempts to do so.

Infants and toddlers often self comfort by putting things into their mouths: thumbs, fingers, fists, binkies, or even toes! Some children rock themselves (or some body part) to sleep. Some children eventually add or substitute a blanket or stuffed animal to cuddle. As children get older, they may find different forms of play or music to be self comforting.

Some children in care may exhibit aberrant forms of self comfort, such as over eating, hoarding food, or frequent and public masturbation. Some older children in their teen years, may even engage in self harm behaviors like “cutting” as a sick form of self comfort.

Children in care can not get enough positive affection from you. By giving these children hugs, pats, tickles, cuddles, and “smootches“, they are fed the affection that they may be very hungry for. While it may not be appropriate for older children to get tickles and “smootches“ from us, they still need hugs! Admittedly, it may be hard at times to offer these affections to a child who has just acted out for the tenth time in one day, but think of it as “medicine”. Our signs of affection for the child tells them that they are valuable and cared for. It also teaches them what healthy affection and comfort looks like.

If a small child (or even a child as old as ten or twelve) is in your care, help them to find a comforting object like a Teddy Bear or blanket. Be sure to let the older child know that this does not make them a baby…you might even playfully hug and snuggle the Teddy Bear yourself to demonstrate! Observe the child closely and note what activities seem to help them calm down. These activities could be something that could be encouraged and developed into a self comforting tools. Try introducing other activities that you or other people use to self comfort: music, exercise, art, or meditation. If you do not have the talent to teach the child an activity that they are interested in, find someone who can.

Teaching the children in our care how to self comfort is a very practical endeavor: when a child can self comfort, they will have fewer acting out episodes, making our lives a bit easier. It is also a profound gift to the child; they will have learned a healthy way to self comfort. It is a gift that could last their whole life.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      10 years ago

      some children are not self comfort because they do not have some body to take care of them,so they go out to for there daily need for them not to died for hunger, that they are not self comfort.

    • profile image

      michael (13) 

      10 years ago

      o my god does he have different parrents

    • saranorburn profile image


      11 years ago

      thank you for your beautiful hub, once children learn to comfort themselves they use the skill for the rest of their lives, understanding emotion is vital to child welfare, : ) touching xx


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)