Kisses and Hugs, the Best Medicine for Your Children

Hugs can instill confidence and convey your love for your children. They’re a fundamental part of making sure that tomorrow your kids are emotionally strong and healthy
Kisses and Hugs, the Best Medicine for Your Children

Last update: 03 February, 2019

Few things are as comforting and emotionally positive as kisses and hugs.

Your best memories, the most intense moments, are often those times that may only last for a few seconds while hugging someone you love.

The power of hugs and kisses for children goes far beyond the physical plane. These are gestures of love that help them grow and develop the self-esteem and security to interact with the rest of the world.

Hugs and Kisses: Medicine for Your Brain

According to an article in the journal Scientific American, one of the most worrisome effects of orphanages is the lack of touch and other emotional gestures.

Orphaned children may be well fed and cared for. However, there isn’t enough interaction for proper development in the brain for those little “sparks” that will help them grow up more securely.

Early Childhood, an Important Time

The brain of a newborn is in a stage that’s hungry for experiences, stimuli, and emotions. It uses these build new neural connections, thus improving volume and creating stronger structures within the brain.

When stress, fear, or insecurity are high, certain parts of the brain will have a smaller size, such as the hippocampus (the part related to memory and emotion).

It has been found that children who grow up in immuno-suppressed environments, lacking affection and physical contact, can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, hyperactivity, low self-esteem, and even aggressive behavior.

According to a study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology, it was found that in many Romanian orphanages during the 1980’s, infants suffered from high levels of emotional stress. Their stress was the caused by the severe emotional deprivation that occurred in these orphanages. It caused high levels of cortisol to be present in the bloodstream, especially in the brain.

The effect was potentially negative if newborns spent their first eight months of life in this state. However, if only two to three months passed before they were adopted by a loving, caring family, the effect could be reversed.

Over, the study found that an infant that suffered from high emotional stress levels during their first eight months of life generally developed a much lower IQ and exhibited increased anxiety behaviors.

2 infant kisses and hugs

Hugs and kisses are Universal to all Languages

There’s nothing so instinctive, powerful, and healing as the embrace of a loved one. In the case of infants and children, it’s even more important to carry out such actions.

Here are a series of reasons why:

  • Positive gestures of affection, like touching, kissing, and hugging, help reduce stress levels and promote neuronal connections in infants.
  • They also create bonds. To bond with your children, hug them from the time they’re very small. It’s possible that as they grow up, they’ll start to reject this practice (which is normal). However,  it’s imperative that you hug them to promote more attachment.
  • Experts recommend that until your children are four or five years old, you should be in the habit of waking them up with a kiss and a hug. There’s nothing better than starting and ending the day with this gesture of affection.
  • As they get older, hugs can be very therapeutic when your children are angry, afraid, or worried. Although there never needs to be a concrete reason to offer a hug, there are certain situations when it will bring them more security.
3 father and child

Children’s Needs

A child doesn’t just need food, clothing, and an education.

Children also need positive words, your help addressing their fears and worries. They need you to help them navigate their emotional world by understanding them.

They also need genuine physical affection. Children are also very well aware when a hug or a caress is sincere, and when you’re in a rush. Give this the time it deserves.

No gesture of affection is as important as a parent with their child. Make sure you craft these magical moments that will live forever in their minds.

So tell us…Have you hugged your kids today? Don’t wait until later…even if they’re already teenagers!

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  • Milmaniene, J. (2002). Los roles en la familia. In Clínica del texto.
  • The Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.(2017). The Dual Nature of Early-Life Experience on Somatosensory Processing in the Human Infant Brain.
  • Murphy MLM, Janicki-Deverts D, Cohen S (2018) Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0203522.
  • Dev Psychopathol. Summer 2001;13(3):611-28. Salivary Cortisol Levels in Children Adopted From Romanian Orphanages. doi: 10.1017/s095457940100311x.
  • PLoS One. 2018; 13(10): e0203522. Published online 2018 Oct 3. Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203522
  • Psychol Sci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Feb 1.
    Published in final edited form as: Psychol Sci. 2015 Feb; 26(2): 135–147. Published online 2014 Dec 19. Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness. doi: 10.1177/0956797614559284