Every mother wants to hug her child. For her it is the way to express and show her tenderness, affection and love. But what do cuddles mean for a child?
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Infants cannot see or hear properly, they cannot distinguish and understand the words other people say. But from the very first days they can feel the warmth of their mother that is transmitted with the help of cuddles. When they are hugged they feel comfortable and safe. And exactly these feelings are fundamental for building a strong emotional connection between a mother and her child.
It is really important to establish emotional connection between a mother and a child, because it contributes to their future relationships. In early childhood such connection may be expressed by a smile on the face of a child when he or she sees mother or by tears in their eyes when they cannot find her. In a more mature age emotional intimacy means trust – trust of a child to their mother. And if they trust their mother, they will share their emotions, problems and sorrows with her, which is very important for a child to grow mentally healthy. Moreover, a British-American anthropologist Ashley Montagu in his book “Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin” states that cuddles literary teach children to love, and children, who have not been hugged a lot by the parents up to seven years, will not be capable of deep feelings. (A review of the book is here.)
Children develop faster when hugged
Hugging influences not only emotions of children, but also their development. There is a medical term “hospitalism”. This term in used to describe the state of some children who grow up without their parents. Very often such children, even if they are absolutely healthy, begin to lag behind in development in comparison with their peers simply because they do not get enough hugs and touches. In 2017 American scientist examined reaction of brains of 125 infants on gentle touches. The results showed that premature babies have lower reaction on touches, and because of this they have to be touched even more. One of the researchers Nathalie Maitre highlights that the most important result of their research was the proof that touches really help the development of premature babies. According to her, in the intensive care unit, the father or mother may be in despair, believing that nothing depends on them. But Nathalie believes it is not so – every touch is important. Other studies confirmed that skin-to-skin contact with premature babies help them to gain weight and normalize their heart rate. (The research can be found here.)
How often do you need to hug your child?
Virginia Satir, an American psychologist and psychotherapist, claims that we need 4 hugs a day to live normal life, 8 to feel safe and 12 to grow up properly. In fact, many psychologists say that every child needs to be loved, and the number of hugs a day for every child is individual. Usually children show when they need their mother’s tenderness. They climb to their mother’s laps, cuddle to her or take her hand. Psychologists are certain that it helps children to get rid of stress, fear and uncertainty.
Everybody wants to be loved, especially children. And the best way to show them your love is to be with them, hug them and kiss them. And only if you do so your child will grow up a good person, who will trust you, respect you, and love you back.