Reasons why you should cuddle your kids even if they act like they don’t like it.
When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.”
So in that vein, here are 9 reasons you should cuddle your kids. Like all the time. It’s an easy way to love your child. Whether they like it or not.
1. They are squishy
Kids, particularly small ones, are so sweet to hug. It’s like cuddling a teddy bear, except your kids can make cute noises. You can’t, however, put your kids in the washing machine. Anyway, hug your kids while they’re squishy because you’ll never be able to say “you are so nice to hug because you’re just so squishy and soft and cuddly,” to anyone else ever.
2. It makes them smarter
Research shows that children whose parents demonstrate love to them verses children whose parents don’t actually have bigger brains (source). Good to know that if you love your child it’ll make them smarter, eh? By providing your children with a loving and safe environment (ahem, this requires more than cuddling) you are directly affecting their development.
Hugging may not raise their IQ, but it’ll help them get the most out of it. And that will be good for them, their future family, and the spheres in which they will move as adults.
3. It releases good chemicals
Physical contact releases a certain chemical in the brain that promotes happiness and lower stress hormones (source). Cuddling and hugging can literally put you in a better mood. And pretty quick at that! If you’ve had a tough day, or if your kids are pushing the envelope and you to your limit, a good way to stop and reset the home atmosphere is to cuddle.
4. They will be comfortable with physical affection
Have you ever tried to hug someone who doesn’t like physical touch? Awkward. Physical touch doesn’t have to be your love language for you to appreciate the connection and thought it implies. If parents never touch their children they will be deprived affection. If your kids are deprived affection they will seek it elsewhere. Believe me, you will not like where else they seek it.
5. It’s good exercise
I probably burn around 400 calories a day (I have a calorie calculator in my head I am quite sure is accurate) trying to pin down my 18 month old. I chase him, I hold him up in the air then bring him down, I hang on to him when he giggles and tries to pull away. He’s walloped me in the ribs, the face, and my teeth. It’s like kickboxing. But with chubby legs and squeals. And less sweating.
6. It communicates love
While adults are able to determine how they feel best loved (5 Love Languages), young children are not. If you look them in the eye, give them attention, smile at them, and show them physical affection they feel good. When they see you like them and that makes them feel good, they feel loved. If kids are naughty and you still hug them, they feel secure with you. If they break something valuable and you hug them, they know their position in the house isn’t in jeopardy. If you get flip out in anger, ask for forgiveness, and seal it with a hug, they understand about conflict resolution. It is one way – out of many – that confirms your love for them.
7. It establishes a connection
When we’ve had a busy day, had lots of guests, or I’ve been preoccupied with work, cooking or life, a good way to reconnect with the kids is through a big hug. It says, “I’ll slow down and just be with you.” If you have company over and your kids feel slightly overwhelmed or shy, a cuddle says, “Even though I’m focusing on others right now, I haven’t forgotten about you.”
At the end of a long day, a good schnuggle (as my son calls it) before bedtime says, “After all is said and done, I am here for you.” And on the flip side, sometimes a hug is the only way little ones can express appreciation.
8. Kids need it
Everyone, but particularly younger children, need to be cuddled. They need physical touch. They need comfort. They need a safe place close to their real life heroes when they feel scared or nervous. I know not every parent finds physical affection easy. I know some mothers and fathers struggle to give lots of hugs and cuddles. My advice?
Do it anyway. And do it often.
9. We need it
Some days I don’t want to hug my kids. Some days, however, I do want to squeeze them. Very hard until it hurts. Okay I’m kidding. It’s the hard days when everyone is cranky, people are sick, heart attitudes are not what they should be, and we feel at the end of our rope that we most need to get back to the basics. When I’m frustrated with one of my kids and on the verge of losing it, I will often grab them and give them a big tight hug. In my heart I’m saying, “You are driving me crazy and if I don’t hug you I’m going to yell at you.” What I do say is, “Mommy gets frustrated sometimes, but she loves you very much.”
Kids want to be cuddled.
They want hugs when they’re happy.
They need hugs when they’re sad.
Kids want proof you still love them when they’ve been difficult.
Moms need affection too.
We also want hugs when we’re happy.
We too need hugs when we’re down.
And we need to know we’re still loved. Even when we’ve screwed up.
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