Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang, “Teach your children well…just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.” Wiser words have never been spoken.
In the endless grind of the day to day, it’s easy to get caught up in the perfunctory tasks of driving to and fro, making lunches, and setting limits, to the detriment of what really matters, which is of course, love.
Love, in the parent-child relationship, is essential for the child’s healthy development. According to a research study done by Child Trends, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families, children who grow up experiencing warmth and attention from their parents enjoy life-long benefits from these interactions. Some of these benefits include:
- Higher Self-Esteem
- Better Academic Success
- Fewer Psychological and Behavioral Issues
- Increased Happiness
In 2010, researchers at Duke University found that babies with very affectionate and attentive mothers grow up to be happier, more resilient, and less anxious adults. The study followed approximately 500 people from infancy until they were in their 30s.
For this study, psychologists began observing the babies when they were eight months old, noting their mothers’ level of interaction with them, as they took several developmental tests. The psychologists rated their mothers’ affection on a five-point rating scale, ranging from “negative” to “extravagant.” Approximately 10% of the mothers showed low levels of affection, 85 percent demonstrated a “normal” amount of affection, and about six percent showed high levels of affection.
Interestingly, 30 years later, the level of affection that participants received from their mothers continued to affect their mental health. Those adults whose mothers showed “extravagant” or “caressing” affection were much less likely than the others to report feelings of stress, anxiety, hostility, psychosomatic symptoms,or distressing social situations.
A newer study, done by scientists exploring the neurobiological impact of affection, even found that the more that we hug our kids, the more that their brains develop! Not that we needed another reason to hug our kids, but this is pretty phenomenal.
So, now that we’ve dumped a whole bunch of science on you, what are some fun ways to shower love and affection onto your kids?
Hug It Out
As we’ve mentioned, hugging has wonderful benefits for your children, but it’s good for you too! A 20 second hug is believed to release the hormone, oxytocin, also called, “The Love Hormone,” which plays a role in bonding and developing trust.
Play For Keeps
Playing games with your children is a fun, and memorable, way to bond. Whether it’s your favorite card game, Bird Bingo, or a simple game of tag, playing with your children will allow you to laugh and let loose together. Plus, it’s good for your inner child!
Whether through reading, storytelling, or simply making things up, sharing stories with your children will provide an opportunity for imaginative play. Let yourself be amazed at the wonderful way that their minds work, and be grateful as they show you who they truly are.
If you’d like more ideas on how to strengthen your relationship with your children, contact us. We are here to help!