Calling all parents: July 18 is Global “Hug Your Kids” Day!
Although hugs may be a daily custom in your household, this special occasion began in 2008 to encourage hard-working mothers and fathers to show love to their children.
You may wonder why hugging needs a special day of encouragement, since hugs have been around from the dawn of humanity. They’re an ancient custom meant to convey warmth, affection, sympathy, and gratitude. But there’s actually a surprising amount of science behind this simple gesture!
Let’s explore how hugs can help your children grow to be smarter, healthier, and happier—all while building appropriate boundaries with others:
Hugs Improve Physical Health 🍎
Did you know that hugs have physical benefits for children? When hugging, a chemical called oxytocin is released in the body. Also known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin supports:
- Healthy immune system
- Overall growth development
When kids don’t receive enough human contact, they could develop a condition known as failure-to-thrive. This sort of growth defect can literally prevent them from growing and developing hormonally.
Hugs Help Brain Development 🧠
Similarly, scientists agree that human touch is a critical part of proper brain growth. Studies show that children who receive more stimulation through touch:
- Have better memory retention
- Develop stronger physical and mental skills
Hugs Support Mental Maturity ❤️
The mental stimulation that hugging provides to children is also very important in the development of their emotions. That’s because children who receive more hugs are more likely to be empathetic and resilient.
They’ll grow up better equipped to control their emotions too.
Boosts Mood ☀️
Nothing soothes a child’s temper tantrum like a tender hug. Just like putting the brakes on a speeding car, a genuine embrace can do wonders to calm nerves or aggression. When it comes to boosting emotional health, hugs help reduce your little one’s anxiety.
Strengthens Bonds 🔗
On top of all the benefits science has uncovered behind hugs, they ultimately help you create stronger bonds with your kids. This includes improving trust and reducing fear, which is good for both parents and children in the long run.
Even though your relationship with your little ones will change as they mature, hugs can provide a feeling of security and nurture the bond between you.
Ask First 💬
Global Hug Your Kids Day is also a chance for an important lesson, and parents can help out by discussing the need for permission. Sure, hugs do positive things for your child’s mind, body and soul, but it’s important to build consent around them.
Nobody should be forced to hug if they don’t want to. As a parent you can set an example, by getting permission from your children to hug them—they’ll learn from you that way. By asking first, children can learn about building healthy boundaries while also expressing when they don’t want to be hugged.
Phrases like “I’m not in a hugging mood” or “I don’t want a hug right now” can get the message across.
Alternatives to Hugging 🙌
At the end of the day, some children and adults may just not like hugs. They’re not for everybody—and that’s totally OK! Keeping this in mind, parents can explain to children that different cultures have different customs around hugging. For example, some cultures would rather shake heads, kiss twice on the cheeks, or even bow instead of wrapping their arms around somebody. The sooner children realize that not every culture feels the same way about hugging, the better.
To practice alternatives to hugging, you can make a chart with different options. For example, on your chart include the following:
- Fist bump
- High five
- Hand shake
When someone new comes over, your little one can point to the option that they want to use to greet this person!
For children who are on the autism spectrum, hugging can be quite uncomfortable. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want any affection! There are many ways to help kids get the same benefits from hugging. You can try the “alternatives to hugging chart,” using a weighted blanket, pushing your hands together, etc.
Global Hug Your Kids Day and Lingokids 💙
Besides hugging, how else do you express your love for your kids? Let us know by tagging us on social media!