When I think back to childhood with the memories of hugs, I am one of the lucky ones. My parents liked to hug and I can still remember the feeling of connection and affection.
Today when I think about my parents and miss their hugs, it leaves a deep pain that is indescribable. If I linger there too long, I start the stories of being unlovable or rejectable.
You see, there usually wasn’t hugging involved when I was very upset or when my dad would come home drunk. Those were scary times and as I got older I wanted nothing to do with that part of my dad.
My mom usually was so distraught and self absorbed with her own emotions that she wasn’t there for me either. I felt isolated and alone. I remember crying in my bed with my teddy bear, Carnation.
Now, I can look back and make some changes for myself and my family moving forward.
Hugs are free so why not give and get as many as possible!?
There is science behind how hugs help child development, but also brain chemistry in adults. Here’s 4 reasons you should build in cuddle time or at 20 second hugs into your day.
Hugs help a child’s physical growth and brain development. It triggers the production of oxytocin, the love hormone and the sensory input stimulates the growth of a healthy brain.
Hugs keep us healthy. Oxytocin strengthens the immune system and helps wounds heal faster and reduces inflammation.
Hugs help emotional regulation. We are not rewarding a child’s big emotions or tantrums with hugs, we are calming their regulating systems and reducing their stress and anxiety. Wouldn’t you like a hug when you’re upset? Cortisol levels increase and we are learning to self regulate and build positive pathways for future conflicts.
Hugs make us happy and build trust and self esteem. They reduce fear and build connection. They set our kids up for a lifetime of intimacy in relationships. An important distinction to make with our kids and hugging is that they have autonomy over the hugging. Hugs can be refused and with other kids we often have to ask first until a trusting relationship is established.
When my daughter started preschool, she quickly met her now best friend and she was enamored. Taylor is a hugger and I wanted her to stay excited about hugging. But, I also knew that she had to figure out which kids were comfortable and which were not. Do you do this as an adult too? My kids hug everyone! I wish I still did too!
Hugging and compassion starts with sending them to yourself. When was the last time you gave yourself a hug?
In Om in the Home Revolution, we do just that. I’ll have you back to the open hearted parenting you always thought was possible. AND, just maybe you’ll be hugging more people along the way!