Hug it out. No really. Hug it out. There is a simple reason why we crave human contact and affection – it calms us. A hug from a safe, caring adult sets off a cascade of biology that recalibrates our child’s body. The same works for teens and adults alike. Humans are wired for real-life social connectivity something we have less of in the era of social media.
We physically need healthy touch and this is why:
- It reduces stress.
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It bonds us to each other.
- It can ease depression.
- It can support your immune system to reduce illness and infections.
- It can help the body fight feelings of lethargy.
How does this happen?
Physical touch (hugging, a pat on the back, a friendly handshake) helps the body increase levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes feelings of love and relaxation. We actually have a biochemical response to hugging. Isn’t it amazing how the human body works?
Now how does this apply to our children and teens who may be struggling emotionally?
We hug it out! If a small child is having a tantrum – emotionally check yourself first before you respond and then go in for a hug. A hug will allow your child to let go of all of his/her big, scary feelings. As a result, the floodgates may open but that is what you want. Tears also reduce stress!!! Two-for-one here, people!
According to research, hugs also increase the release of dopamine and serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and elevated mood. Just when we think human behavior is complicated and impossible, science lets us know we need to simplify and get back to basics. No tricky parenting techniques needed. Just a good old-fashioned hug.