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The Health Benefits Of Hugging

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 the best 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 positive effects of hugging your child and why you must start now.

Who wants a hug? Raise your hand!

photo of woman hugging her children while smiling
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What is a hug?

Really? Do I need to ‘teach’ you what a warm 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 whom you feel a connection or feel love, 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 Physical Touch

This simple behavior of hugging has been proven to release high levels of oxytocin“love hormone.” 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 numerous studies, the scientific benefits of hugs 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 child development..literally. 

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, or skin contact, 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 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!

boy jumping in water

The Physical Benefits of Hugging

Giving plenty of 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… Calming Effect!

It can also help to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and create feelings of euphoria. The power of hugs can have a positive effect on your child’s 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.

Confident Boy giving a thumbs up

The Psychological Benefits

Your child can benefit from hugs because they can build higher self-esteem and confidence, giving them the superpower to feel a sense of security and more 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 turning into destructive habits or bad behavior.

Your little ones can also develop better interpersonal skills, enabling them to better understand and navigate complex social situations and relationships. Just plain awesome emotional development with a gentle touch.

Daddy Tip for Tantrum-Throwing Child

When your little one is having ‘one of those days’ and having temper tantrums, use some tender loving hugs. I’ve done it more than once and it ALWAYS works. 

1- Knee down in front of them and look at them in their eyes

2- Ask them what’s the problem

3- Open your arms widely

4- Let them melt into you

5- Close your arms around them

6- Let them cool off in your arms

7- When they’re ready, let them get back to their fun selves

Mother hugging son

The 20-Second Hug Rule

Family therapist, Virginia Satir, famously remarked, “We need four hugs a day for survival. 8 hugs are required for maintenance each day. We require 12 hugs regularly each day to grow. This might sound like a full-time job to keep up with but well worth it!

But she also talks about the length and the quality of the hug is more important than frequency. That 20 seconds will give you all the benefits of the above-mentioned.

Bear Hug a Pillow!

If you’re having a bad day as a parent or worker get a pillow… A recent study discovered that hugging a cushion can have similar benefits! Researchers from Japan conducted an experiment using a human-shaped cushion called the Hugvie.

They divided participants into two groups. The first group had a 15-minute phone conversation with a stranger, while the second group had the same conversation while hugging the Hugvie cushion.

Interestingly, both groups experienced a reduction in stress levels, but the participants who hugged the cushion showed even greater improvement. To measure stress levels, cortisol levels were checked through blood and saliva samples.

It may seem peculiar that a cushion can have such an impact, but the researchers believe it has to do with the act of hugging itself. When you open your arms to embrace something, it creates a sense of space that can help lower cortisol levels. Cool stuff… So if you’re having a bad parenting day or you’re boss is being an A-Hole, hug a pillow!

Simple Hug?

A simple action with a positive impact. There are so many positive outcomes to hugging your kid on a regular basis. This simple physical connection is an incredibly special and important act of affection that can help build a strong emotional parent-child bond.

Remember they are only young once! Don’t wait until the next National Hugging Day, give them a tight hug today.

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