My son Michael, from time to time, will ask for a "mom hug." What is the difference between a hug and a "mom hug"? Well, sometimes the "mom hug" was asked for when I was most frustrated with him. For example, I was told he had 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 makes whatever is going on in our world a little better. It is a great way to say and 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. It has also 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 heart! This is a great reason why we should hug our children before they go to school, out with friends, on a date, or 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 always have to 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 "losing it" or when you are frustrated with them - but it might be good to call to "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.
This can be a time when they feel alone and 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 their hearts.
5. Hugging helps our children feel all is well.
It is a beautiful way to express our love for our children, and those wonderful arms around our neck transfer those feelings of love and the "all is well' feeling back to us.
Being a grandmother, I live for hugs from my grandchildren. Nothing feels so good as arms around your neck from a child. I do have to issue a warning. My grandchildren know hugs are expected - I taught them how to give a tight hug. However, when they get older and stronger, you have to get them to hug just a little lighter!!
I know sometimes, as our children get older, they try to 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 encourages you to celebrate this day by doing those things with your child that tell them you love them. All types of touch or communication are beneficial and will help your children grow. Ways to say to 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 moms and dads to show affection to their kids by hugging them every day.