Mother hugging child


We all love warm, fuzzy hugs. But for kids these are essential for their growth, health and development. Science shows that a 20 second hug releases a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the love hormone which in children helps them to grow healthier brains, strengthen their immune system, reduce stress, and help calm tantrums.

Other benefits to hugging your child are that it creates a bond and belonging that makes the child feel like their parent is a person they can trust. It makes them feel safe and secure, and can also help them heal faster when they are sick, and even reduce the stress of any trauma and grief in kids. For a healthier life a child needs 8 hugs a day, whilst an adult needs 4 hugs a day.

mother hugging childResearch shows that children who grow up in orphanages and are kept in a crib the whole day with little to no physical affection per day are prone to suffer from impaired cognitive development. Research also shows that when these institutionalized kids are given soothing touches, and are held, their development increases significantly.

When children are not shown physical affection they also suffer from a deficiency called failure-to-thrive, which stunts growth in children, causing them to not gain weight and to be shorter than children their age. Again, this deficiency can be reversed by soothing and gentle touches.


Last but not least, hugs help develop resilient children. The release of oxytocin which occurs whilst hugging reduces the stress of trauma which research shows deteriorates a child’s immune system. Oxytocin reduces the stress hormone, helping kids to regulate their own emotions, lowering their chances of getting depressed and helps them to become resilient. Hugging also helps kids grow up less fearful, happier and knowing that they are loved.

There are countless benefits to hugging your child, so go on and shower them with hugs and kisses.

By Percy Matshoba