Hugs for Health:

Physical Contact: Hugging Your Kids for Their Health

Children need to be touched and hugged on a more regular basis. They need at least five or six hugs a day for survival, really! If you want your kids to thrive, make sure that they get hugged a lot.

We may prepare food for our children, drive them around, take them to the movies, buy them toys and treats, but nothing registers as deeply as a simple squeeze, cuddle, or pat on the back. There is no greater reassurance of their lovability and worth than to be affectionately touched and held. By giving our kids appropriate physical contact, we send them into the world with renewed inner strength to cope with the multitude of challenges they'll daily face.

Interestingly enough , many parents rely more than they are aware on words to convey their love and affection to their children. In research done by the University of Pittsburgh in which they observed families on the beaches of Greece, the Soviet Union, and the United States, pyschologists noticed that when it came to punishing or retrieving children, the amount of touch was very similar. But when it came to soothing, holding, and play, American children received significantly less contact than those of other cultures.

We need to combine both verbal and nonverbal messages in communicating our good feelings and love for our children. Holding your son's hand, gently stroking your daughter's face, hugging, and kissing often speak louder than our words. Incidentally you can amplify the benefit of touching by telling your children how much you appreciate the physical affection you share together.

Some of the best loving touching falls under the heading of tenderness. We are tender toward our animals, our gardens, our cars, and our jewelry, yet we're often so hard on ourselves and our children.

Tenderness doesn't take any extra time and can be easily given while other activities are going on. As you walk through your house, you can gently pat your child on the back as you pass by. It takes no extra time to gently stroke your child's face as you are scrambling to get off to work in the morning.

As you place your children's breakfast in front of them, you can press your hand on theirs at the same time or touch them on the back of the neck while they are sitting at the table. What this conveys is, "I'm glad you're here."

There are numerous ways to show how much we mean to one another. We have a marvelous opportunity literally at our fingertips to promote a sense of emotional security in our children. These small gestures we make carry significant meaning.

Research shows that girl infants less than a year old receive five times as much physical affection as do boy babies. Boys need to be held, cuddled, hugged, and kissed every bit as much as girls do, especially as young children.

Moreover, although early childhood may be the most crucial period for affection, both boys and girls never outgrow the need for physical contact.

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