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The Benefits of Hugging Your Child

Hugging your child is incredibly beneficial. Hugging for as little as 20 seconds each day can stimulate their emotional, cognitive, and physical development.

Child and father hugging

Taking time each day to wrap your child up in a warm hug can provide so many benefits to you and your little one. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone, try wrapping your child up in a hug for at least 20 seconds. It is a small but powerful way to start connecting.

  • Hugs can help your child grow a healthy brain and body. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers need many different types of sensory stimulation for development. Skin contact or physical touch, like hugging and holding, are great ways to help your child grow a healthy brain and a strong body. In fact, physicians have found that when children don’t receive physical contact, their physical growth and development can slow down.

  • Soothe your child during a tantrum. Not only are hugs good for children’s brain development and physical growth, but they also support emotional development. Children are still learning how to regulate their emotions, which can lead to outbursts and temper tantrums. By hugging them in these emotionally-charged moments, you can calm them down and show that you’re there to support them in tough times. It’s important to note that hugging your child during a tantrum isn’t the same as giving in to them. Instead, it helps them avoid an emotional crash and reduces harmful levels of stress.

  • Hugs can help your child become more resilient. When children face stressful situations, the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol get released into their bodies and brain. This stress can linger if not addressed. When too much of these stress hormones build up in their bodies, it can negatively impact their mental and emotional well-being. Science indicates that long hugs can release the love hormone oxytocin, which can help balance out those stress hormones.

  • Hugs promote health and healing. The love hormone oxytocin provides so many benefits to your little one. When released, like during hugs, it can strengthen your child’s immune system by decreasing inflammation. Children with strong immune systems have a better chance of fighting off or reducing the effect of viruses.

  • By hugging every day, you can increase your bond with your child. Giving and receiving physical affection strengthens your bond with your child. It can help your child form a secure attachment based on love and trust.

Whether you incorporate hugs into your child’s morning routine, bedtime, or any other moment throughout the day, your child will gain lasting benefits that will support them throughout their lives.

Quick tip: Next time you hug your child, count to 20; you might be surprised how long 20 seconds is. You can even encourage your toddler or preschooler to count with you.

First 5 California
Contributed by:
First 5 California
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