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"Mom Hugs", Science, and the Top Five Benefits of Hugs!

My son Michael from time to time will ask for a "mom hug." What is the difference between a hug and and a "mom hug"? Well, sometimes the "mom hug" was asked for when I was most frustrated with him. For example: Being told he has a huge project due the next day when he had been assigned said project two weeks ago. Michael also asked for a "mom hug" when he would have a bad day, and now that he is married and lives away from me, he asks for one every time he comes home. I love giving "mom hugs"- I am a hugger.


In our family we hug. We hug when we leave, we hug when we arrive. We hug just because. There is just something about hugs that make whatever is going on in our world a little better. It is a great way to say and to feel the words, "I love you."


Why are hugs so important and what power is behind a "mom hug." I did some research and below are my top five reasons why we should hug our children:


1. Hugs Help Kids Grow Smarter



Researchers have found that hugs are essential to brain growth. This research has shown that a 20 second hug can help your kids grow smarter, healthier, happier, more resilient and closer to you. In fact, it has been proven that hugs release hormones that relax, lower anxiety, and reduce blood pressure.


So, in more ways than one a good long hug is good for your brain and your heart! This is a great reason why we should hug our children before they go to school, out with friends, on a date, off to college...you get the idea. Set the timer and start hugging!


2. Hugs help kids grow and be healthy

Hugs trigger a release of oxytocin. Among other things – oxytocin strengthens our immune system. As a result growth and nerve factors are released.


The power of hugs cannot be underestimated. Dr Natalie Epton, Specialist Pediatrician and Neonatologist explains, “Hugging your baby has numerous benefits, including better-regulated breathing and heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels, as well as initiating breastfeeding earlier and sustaining it for longer. Studies on premature babies show that the practice of ‘kangaroo care’ (cuddling the baby skin-on-skin) improves weight gain, reduces breathing complications and is associated with earlier hospital discharge.” So next time your teenager asks why you have to always hug them, tell them you are doing it for their health!



3. Hugs help them feel better

Our children get frustrated and upset- sometimes words can’t help but a good "mom hug " does. It helps them feel safe, protected and heard.

It's hard to stop everything and give your child a good hug when they are "loosing it" or when you are frustrated with them - but it might be good to call a "hug -out" instead of a "time- out."



4. Hugging helps you bond with your child

It has been proven that hugs improve trust, reduce fear, and strengthen relationships. I think this is very true for children of all ages- but especially for teenagers.


It's a time when they are feeling alone, vulnerable, figuring out who they are and their place in the world. A hug reminds them that they have a place. A place in their family and a place in your heart.


5. Hugging helps our children feel all is well.

It is a wonderful way to express our love for our children and those wonderful arms around our neck transfers those feelings of love and the "all is well' feeling back to us.


Being a grandmother I live for hugs from my grandchildren. There is nothing that feels so good as arms around your neck from a child. I do have to issue a warning. My grandchildren all know hugs are expected - I taught them how to give a good tight hug. However, when they get older and become strong teenage boys, you have to get them to hug just a little lighter!!


I know sometimes as our children get older, they try and get out of those hugs, especially the public ones. But, have no fear- the power of a "mom hug" prevails. Hug your children with great abandon!


Sometimes hugs are not the right thing to do

I know there are situations when hugging our children is not possible.


This article is not meant to minimize those situations but encourage you to celebrate this day by doing those things with your child that tells them you love them. All types of touch or communication is beneficial and will help your children grow and tell them their heart is your heart and you love them.


History of Global Hug Your Kid Day

Global Hug Your Kids Day was started by Michelle Nichols in 2008, a decade after her son Mark died of brain cancer at the age of 8 ½. The day reminds mom and dads to show affection to their kids by hugging them every day.