Why hugging matters

We all crave hugs, at moments of celebration and moments of distress. Do we know why they matter so much and make us feel so comforted, safe and refueled? Recent research describes the roots of our dependence on hugs in terms of early attachment behaviors between babies and their mothers and fathers.

Babies who are securely attached are babies whose parents have been able to be available consistently enough to give their babies confidence that they will be there when needed. One of the ways that message gets transmitted is through hugs that come at the needed moment, and last long enough to allow the baby to relax safely into a happy, satisfied state of contentment.

We have talked about the importance of the emotional muscle of holding on to positive feelings, even in the face of difficulties or stress. Given that our brains reproduce the original feelings when we summon up a memory, it’s important to reinforce the good feelings from good memories. Whether it’s a caregiver handing over to a parent at the end of the day, or the caretaking parent greeting a partner, the first thing to talk about is the funny, or good, or pleasurable incidents during the day. Only then it is useful to you both to move on to the not-so-easy moments.

But perhaps the very first thing to do is not to talk at all, but greet your partner with a full hug that lasts until you feel each other relax. Here’s a link to a video that describes that process as part of what can make a couple’s partnership stronger.

Building parental emotional muscle is a crucial foundation for helping your child grow emotionally strong and resilient. When you know how to seek and give comfort and support, you will be able to teach your child important lessons for life. All too often children get the message that they are not supposed to have feelings, or be needy, or want comfort.

In fact people grow strong from knowing what they need and seeking it out. Emotional refueling gives us all the resources to offer empathy and help to others. Teaching your child that he or she can turn to you in need and then offer support freely to friends and family will foster a personality that others will appreciate throughout life.

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One Response to Why hugging matters

  1. Loida Pasche says:

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for putting up.

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