A hug may seem like a simple act of showing your love for someone. You hug your friends, colleagues, parents and child. But, do you know what a hug signifies? And what benefits it brings?
By Dr Arunita Biswas Srivastava
A hug can convey a lot, especially to your child. It can convey the love you have for her and assure her that you will always be there for her. According to Parenting For Brain, a 20-second hug can help your child grow more smart, healthy, happy and closer to you.
Let us look at why it is important to hug your child every day.
It totally depends on the parents as to how many times they want to hug their child. Hugging a child makes the child feel more secured and loved. Therefore, it is important to hug your child daily once. Remember, there is no fixed amount to the hugs you can give your child. Hug your child anytime, anywhere whenever you feel like it.
A baby can distinguish between her mother’s and another person's hug. Her mother means the world to a baby. From the age of 0-2 years, the baby does not know anyone apart from the mother. From the age of 2-6 years, other people start coming in the psychological world of the child. However, the mother holds a very important place. Therefore, a child can distinguish between the hug of a mother and someone else. In addition, a child can also distinguish between criticism and appreciation of the mother.
"The brain requires lots of stimulation for robust growth. Hugs and cuddles Activates and stimulate neural development, important for your child’s physical, mental and emotional health," says Arundhati Swamy, leading counsellor and former President of Chennai Counselor's Foundation.
There have been many studies around this theory. Research is still on to prove this. There is no doubt that a hug is important for the child. When a baby is suffering from a fever or is not well, parents should hug the child to boost her sense of security and stop her from feeling lonely. A happy child will heal faster than an unhappy child.
Immunity is linked to willpower and emotional strength. When a child feels loved, he will feel secure and capable of fighting diseases. Hence, hugging makes a child emotionally strong and boosts the child’s ability to ward of disease.
Hugging a child has following benefits. When you hug your baby, it:
• Leads to better emotional health
• Boosts confidence in the child at an early age
• Gives your child a sense of security
• Makes the child feel important
"Hugging makes a child feel loved, thus builds their self-esteem," says Arundhati.
It is believed that a child requires a lot of different sensory stimulation for development. In this context, a physical touch like hugging is an important stimulation that aids the growth of a healthy mind and a strong body.
If a child is given sensory stimulation, it strengthens the child’s emotional health. This leads to the child becoming more trustworthy later in life.
Note: Sensory stimulation is an important part of development. Often, finicky people are so due to deprivation of sensory stimulation or due to a bad experience related to this.
We also think that children like to be hugged by everyone. This depends on the child. She may like to be hugged by everyone or only by specific persons. As a parent, remember to demonstrate your affection for your child by hugging her to show her how much she means to you.
Cuddling and hugging release oxytocin, the chemical of love and connection and bonds parents to children. It reduces anxiety and opens the way for relaxation, growth and healing; helps them learn to regulate their emotions by countering cortisol, the stress chemical which is released when a child is upset - Arundhati Swamy
The author is a Bangalore-based consultant psychiatrist.
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