The Importance of contact with your kids
With National Hugging Day around the corner, let’s consider the many developmental benefits of a simple ‘hug’.
Benefits of touch
Touch is an essential human need and is the first of the senses to develop in a human child.
There is a reason that skin to skin contact is encouraged immediately after birth, as it is known to deepen a sense of connection between parent and baby, promote healing and regulate body temperature, breathing, and heart rate in newborns.
Touch, affection and a sense of closeness create a sense of comfort and wellbeing by increasing the level of certain chemicals in the brain. This includes dopamine, which is known as the “happiness hormone”, and oxytocin, which is the hormone involved in human bonding.
Of course, every child is different and it is important to respect personal boundaries. Some children may prefer to express physical contact through a high-five or fist bump, while some may prefer no physical contact whatsoever.
(VIDEO: Teacher greeting her students with special handshakes & hugs before class!)
How to get more contact with your child
A few little changes get help increase the amount of contact you have with your child so they can benefit from this sense of closeness:
- Bathtime or bedtime can be an ideal time for having fun contact, such as tickling or cuddling
- Depending on the age of your child, you could hold hands when going for walks and leaving the house
- Sitting or cuddling together on the sofa while watching TV or a film to encourage closeness
- Comforting touches, like rubbing their back and stroking their hair
- Cuddling or putting your arm around them when doing an activity together like reading a book or drawing
Toys like the Yoee Play Together toy, which is based on the idea of caressing a baby with a feather, are also great for encouraging contact from newborn age. The feather-like tail can be used to tickle and caress, which engages baby and can help calm and soothe. The toy is also ideal for encouraging close contact with other family members such as siblings and grandparents.
Benefits of emotional contact
Close ‘emotional contact’ is just as important as physical contact.
Having honest, face to face conversations are a great way of connecting with your child and ensuring closeness and trust. Games like Sussed? encourage conversations that you haven’t had before about likes, dislikes, reactions and opinions. This helps you to share new things with each other and teaches children about empathy and self-awareness.
Other resources such as the My First Emotions Box can help young children to identify and name different emotions, which is great for developing their emotional intelligence. Learning to manage feelings together helps strengthen your bond and establish healthy boundaries, which equips you with the tools to deal with future scenarios.
Hugging is a lovely way of expressing a close bond with your child and has many developmental benefits. However, physical touch is not the only way to maintain close contact. Communicating openly with one another, sharing new things and being emotionally present ensures a strong bond between you and your child.
Tags: child development, emotional development, health, physical play, wellbeing
This post was written by Sarah Welland