The benefits of hugging are boundless but the importance of hugs in a child’s life is heavily underestimated by adults.
The role of affectionate touch has a huge impact to a child’s cognitive and emotional development.
Children learn and develop a lot from how parents behave with them.
Gifts and celebrations might seem great, but a simple hug can spread a lot of magic inside a child that such objects rarely can.
How often your child needs to be hugged?
Author and family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”.
These can be a quick, or a nice cuddle, or a simple morning hug.
The key is to spend physical time together that is deep and emphatic.
But guess what? Even a 10-second hug a day can significantly improve your health.
Let’s dive into the science of hugs and learn what other positive things they bring to our lives.
Hugs create happy kids.
The psychological impact of hugging is immense.
Not only does it boost a kid’s self-esteem and feelings of self-confidence, but it also helps them stay optimistic.
These 3 psychological resources (self-esteem, mastery, and optimism) are closely interconnected and buffer the effects of stressful events which in the end, makes a kid feel loved and happy.
Hugs help kids grow smarter
Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that children who were showered with love by their mothers during the early years have a larger hippocampus, the key part of the brain that is vital for learning, memory and response to stress.
While this may not imply that hugging leads to higher IQ levels in your children, it is worth noting that providing them with a loving and safe environment to grow up in does wonders for their learning and development.
In the long run, they will continue to reap the benefits of your loving affection as they grow up into confident and well-adjusted individuals.
Hugs help children feel safe
As children begin to learn about how things work, they need the loving gestures of their parents to feel emotionally secure and be assured that they are accepted into the family.
The nurturing touch of a hug helps to establish trust and a sense of safety in them, which allows them to take in the sights and sounds of the world around them without worry.
With a deep sense of security, hugging also leads to an openness to learn new things and promote open and honest communication between parent and child.
Hugs help kids grow physically
Physical contact is also essential to a child’s physical growth.
Physicians have found that when children are deprived of physical contact, their bodies stop growing despite normal intake of nutrients.
This condition is called failure-to-thrive.
Failure-to-thrive is a type of growth deficiency.
The health of children who suffer from failure-to-thrive can be improved when nurturing touches and hugs are provided.
One of the reasons why hugging is associated with physical growth is that it triggers the release of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone.
This feel-good hormone has many important effects on our bodies.
One of them is growth stimulation.
Studies show that hugging can instantly boost the level of oxytocin.
When oxytocin is increased, several growth hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor and nerve growth factor are increased as well.
As a result, the nurturing touch of a hug enhances a child’s growth.
Hugs strengthen the immune system
It’s a medically proven fact that hugging is one of the best ways to strengthen one’s immunity.
This works effectively in kids.
The emotional charge that a hug creates, balances the production of white blood cells.
And this is how your kid’s body is healthy and illness-free.
Hugs reduce your kids’ temper/tantrums
Parents who shout at their kids for throwing tantrums will be happy to know that even hugging can help.
Shouting or grounding your kid will not always help.
Try hugging your kid and you will see a considerable reduction in his/her temper.
Hugging your kid when he/she throws tantrums is definitely not a sign of encouraging bad behavior.
It is just a way of getting the kid to calm down.
Hugs Reduce stress
There is a strong reason why doctors and nurses alike stress on the baby spending extended skin-to-skin contact with the mother after birth.
Well, the same reason applies for hugs as well, even though the contact might be different.
The feeling of having someone close to you – especially someone who cares about you – also ends up triggering the release of oxytocin within the body, which plays a vital role in reducing stress and lifting up your mood.
Hugs relax muscles
When we hug, we can feel the tension in ourselves and in the other person literally melt away.
Hugs may not be able to take away our emotional pain, but they can definitely help to alleviate it; hugs tangibly soothe body aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
Hugs make children adhere better to discipline
As surprising as it might sound, hugging helps children understand their mistakes and errant behavior much better than using a stick or administering corporal punishment.
It is necessary for kids to know that despite their mistakes, they are still loved and you want the best for them.
This will make them more accepting of your advice.
Hugging teaches our children how to give and receive
Sometimes, our children might not want to be hugged.
Don’t force them to reciprocate, but don’t give up hugging them either!
Our children learn not just the warmth of receiving a hug, they will begin to understand the need to show love to others by giving hugs of their own too.
Hugs educate our children on how love is a two-way street.
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