Who wants a hug? Raise your hand!
I come from a French-Canadian family, so hugging was commonplace at our home. I’ve read about the benefits of hugging your kids on many occasions, so I became an even bigger hugger when fatherhood came around. I hug my son like it’s going outta style even when it comes to discipline, and if you’ve been following any of my previous posts, you know how I love my son to bits and pieces.
Have you ever considered the profound and often underrated power of a hug? It’s such a simple gesture, yet it can have a huge impact on the development of your child. As parents, we often tend to focus on providing for our children in the most common ways: food, shelter, education, etc.
But we can give them something even more powerful– love, comfort, and security – and hugs are a great way to show that. They’re an intimate expression of affection that can help build a strong bond between parent and child.
Believe me, on this, you’ve rarely seen a stronger bond than what my son and I have(this is very debatable of course). Our relationship is almost exaggerated, by the Korean standards here at least, and I must say that giving him several hugs daily is part of why we are joined at the hip. When he had his first sleepover last week, it was a tough one for me due to our ‘togetherness.’
The benefits of hugging your child go far beyond the emotional; there are scientific reasons why it’s so important. Read on to learn about the awesome benefits of hugging your child and why you must start now.
What is a hug?
Really? Do I need to ‘teach’ you what a hug is? Here goes…A hug is a form of physical affection that involves the wrapping of arms around another person. You can do it with anyone with who you feel a connection to or feel love for, including your friends, family members, and even pets.
Hugs are often used to express love, comfort, empathy, or gratitude. Hugging is a very common practice in many cultures and societies. They are often expected as part of a greeting between friends or acquaintances, as well as between family members.
When you hug your children, it is also used to comfort them and show affection. Hugs are sometimes used as a form of therapy in some cultures and societies. Some people may hug as a part of spiritual practices, or others. Hugging is one of the most common forms of nonverbal communication. It can be used to express emotions like love and appreciation.
The emotional benefits of hugging your child
This simple behavior of hugging has been proven to release the “love hormone” oxytocin. This hormone is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream, where it acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing stress and anxiety while promoting feelings of calm and security.
According to studies, hugging might increase oxytocin levels right away. Several growth hormones, including insulin-like and nerve growth factors, increase together with an increase in oxytocin. Therefore, a hug’s loving touch promotes a child’s growth…literally.
“Kids grow like weeds” they say…Hug away!
Hugging also releases dopamine, a hormone that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, making us feel content and happy. (No not the beer type of dopamine guys! Focus on the hugging part)…
The release of dopamine from your hugs will make your child feel loved more and more, which can have a profound effect on their self-esteem and emotional well-being, helping them to feel secure and confident in themselves.
Hugging can also help children to build trust and form stronger bonds, which are the building blocks of great relationships. Follow my blog and learn how to build a great relationship with your son!
The physical benefits
Giving hugs can help your kids reduce their stress and anxiety, lowering their blood pressure and even decreasing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in their bloodstream.
It can also help to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and create feelings of euphoria. Embracing your child can even have a positive effect on their immune system, increasing the number of antibodies, white blood cells, and natural killer cells, which are responsible for fighting infections.
Endorphins are highly addictive! You can get them from exercising and other sources as well… You must have heard of the ‘runner’s high.’ Now how about the ‘hugger’s high.’ New trendy word of the year from yours truly…
Hugging also helps to improve your child’s sleep by releasing serotonin, which has a number of benefits in itself. Sleep provides a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, allowing us to rest and recharge.
The psychological benefits
Your child can benefit from hugs because they can build their self-esteem and confidence, enabling them to feel more secure and grounded in themselves. It also helps them to feel loved and appreciated, which can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Hugging your child can also help them to better understand their emotions and feelings. It can help them to identify and express their emotions more effectively and appropriately, which can help prevent and reduce the risk of them turning into unhealthy or destructive habits.
Your little ones can also develop better interpersonal skills, enabling them to better understand and navigate complex social situations and relationships.
There are so many positives to hugging your child! The simple action is an incredibly special and important act of affection that can help build a strong bond between parent and child.
Virginia Satir, a family therapist, famously remarked, “We need four hugs a day for survival. 8 hugs are required for maintenance each day. We require 12 hugs each day to grow. This might sound like a full-time job to keep up with, it’s your child, do it. Do it often!
Remember they are only young once!
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