"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 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!