Did you know that showing your child affection through hugs, kisses, kind words, and time together can have lifelong positive outcomes? Even simple gestures can benefit your child’s mind, body, self-confidence, and more.
Numerous studies have shown that children who receive consistent affection from their caregivers have higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavioral problems. Warm and loving relationships with parents give children a sense of safety and security. And when children feel secure, they are more likely to be happy, confident, and curious, which also helps with development.
When children receive affection, their brains produce the love hormone oxytocin. This hormone helps reduce stress in the body and promotes happiness and health. Experiences that help children produce this hormone benefit their emotional and physical health.
For some caregivers, showing affection might not come easily, and that’s OK. But showing affection doesn’t require a grand gesture; even simple actions can have a big impact:
Have fun together. Playing together is a great way for caregivers to show affection and bond with their children. They crave the attention of their caregivers and spending one-on-one time with them whenever you are able shows how much you care.
Give them hugs. Hugging for as little as 20 seconds each day can stimulate your child’s emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Read more in our previous article.
Ask them questions, and listen to their answers. Give them time to talk about their day, and pay close attention. You can try asking questions from time to time to show you’re interested in what they have to say.
Read a book together. Reading together provides that special one-on-one bonding time. Reading also helps your child increase their vocabulary and develop their imagination and cognitive skills.
Praise them when they do something good. Praising your child can help increase their self-confidence and their sense of self. Let them know you’re proud of them and watch their happiness grow.
Write them a letter, and read it together. Creating fun, special moments like this shows your child how much you care about them. Your letter can be funny, serious, helpful, or celebratory—the most important part is that it gives you another opportunity to connect with your child.