They might not give them as often as you’d like, but when your child hugs you the entire world stops. It surprises you and suddenly everything makes sense.
This is where true happiness lies.
That moment when your child wraps their arms around you and says, “I love you, you’re important” without using words.
We’re sure that as a mother, father, grandparent or even as a teacher you have experienced these wonderful moments on more than one occasion.
Because it’s something that you love receiving, it doesn’t hurt to know how to encourage these gestures more often.
We’ll give you some quick tips.
Hugs from children, keys for emotional health
We’ve previously spoken about the benefits of hugs – how they can vanquish fears, fight stress, and strengthen bonds with the people you love.
We’re used to initiating these gestures with our children, but…how can we encourage them to return the favor on a regular basis?
Pay attention to the following aspects.
Don’t force children to do something they don’t want to do
When we talk about emotional and heartwarming gestures, you can’t make them into constraints or obligations.
A very common behavior in some families is to force children to hug or kiss other people when they come to visit or they run into them on the street.
- If a child is not very confident they can see this gesture as something annoying or uncomfortable. It’s never a good idea to force them to do something they don’t want to do.
- Keep in mind, hugs only have meaning when they come from people who have meaning to us.
There is no reason a stranger should touch your child and if it is family or a close friend, it should be your child’s decision whether to greet with a hug or not.
It serves as a day to day model
In a healthy, happy family, hugs are a common gesture that are apart of the daily routine.
You give hugs to say thank you, to show gratitude, when you’re sick or afraid or simply because you want to.
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- You can’t make a child do something if they don’t see it happening around them.
- Positive, meaningful gestures need to be seen amongst the family on a regular basis. If not, when the child does so it will feel strange and uncomfortable for them.
Respect their personality without criticism or punishment
Sometimes parents can criticize or “speak negatively” about another child’s behavior.
“She’s just so timid, so closed,” “He’s so uncaring,” or“How terrible that they respond with such little emotion.”
- In the end, this can lead to a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” meaning that the child ends up doing what is expected of them. It can often lead to them feeling ashamed or uncomfortable when they want to offer a gesture of closeness or affection.
- You should never label a child or treat their behavior as if it were permanent. While it’s true that some are more reserved than others, everyone appreciates these gestures.
There are times when a hug is the only answer
Another way that children can understand the importance of hugs is to see them as something that’s cathartic, something that soothes them and doesn’t require words, only actions.
- A hug can be extremely therapeutic when there’s high levels of anxiety or when fear and insecurity are prevalent.
- Instead of saying, “Don’t worry my daughter, everything will be fine” and “I’ll always be by your side,” sometimes a hug is enough. It offers them a sense of security and reassurance.
- When your little one learns early on that hugging is something they can do when they feel “overwhelmed,” they’ll be more likely to seek you out sooner.
- We’re sure you know that saying, “I love you” can be hard for some children. However, be aware that for many children, a quick and unexpected embrace can have the same significance as saying, “I love you.”
Hugs are gestures that are both heartwarming and healing at the same time.