Even if you’re not the hugging type, you know that a hug can comfort and soothe. For children, it’s so much more meaningful as it reassures them of love and security, an important part of their foundation as they grow and mature.
In case you need more reasons to hug your child today, here are 5 health benefits of hugs, backed by science.
1. Hugs help make kids smarter
Your child needs sensory stimulation, which includes physical touch and hugs for their brain function to develop and blossom in a healthy way. Studies have found that children who receive nurturing through hugs and kisses develop a 10% larger hippocampus than kids who aren’t held as much. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for storing long-term memories and knowledge.
2. Hugs help increase your kid’s self-esteem
It’s human nature to want physical connectedness. It assures us of attachment, affection, and self-worth. Kids remember those cuddles and hugs. In fact, science believes it is imprinted in a child’s memory. It gives kids the ability to form their “ability to self-love.”
3. Hugs develop trust
Aside from allowing our children to find a way to establish a healthy sense of self worth, hugs also strengthen the bond they feel towards mom and dad. The physical act of holding them resonates deep within, reassuring them that they are safe and accepted. Even in their early years, kids are already forming coping mechanisms to varying situations. So knowing the comfort of mom and dad’s embrace is essential to their healthy psychosocial development.
4. Hugs can boost immunity
Studies have found that adults who are often hugged rarely get the flu.
“The stress-buffering effects of hugging explained 32 percent of that beneficial effect,” explains the U.S. News & World Report. “Even among those who got a cold, those who felt greater social support and received more frequent hugs had less severe symptoms.”
In kids, hugs can increase the presence of oxytocin, which is also known as one of the “happy hormones.”
5. Hugs help reduce stress
Research out of Carnegie Mellon has found that hugs help adults stay “calm, cool, and collected.” In children, it’s been known to soothe tantrums and ease anxiety.
Though many would argue that hugging a child throwing a fit can encourage “bad behavior,” it’s actually important for your child’s emotional development. At their age, they’re still struggling to learn how to self-regulate and to navigate through overwhelming thoughts and feelings. So giving them a loving embrace reassures them and gives them the safe feeling they need to learn how to deal with emotions in a positive way.
We hope this helps encourage you to make time each day to wrap your child in a tight embrace. Have you hugged your little one today?
READ: How the 6-second hug can transform your relationships
sources: Parenting for Brain, Reader’s Digest, Mindbodygreen.com, Mercola.com, Healthline, Seeker.com, Health.UsNews