New Study: the more you hug your kids, the more their brains develop

Human interaction is basically composed of creating bonds with the people around us, especially our family members. The bond with your children is one of the most satisfying human interactions, and if the bond is closely knit, it’s even the more satisfying and provides a number of benefits for our mental and physical health and well-being. What make come as a surprise is that these positive influences can be seen on a biological level as well.


The hormone oxytocin

This hormone was first discovered by Sir Henry Dale back in 1906 and it’s a type of hormone that’s usually released in large amounts at childbirth, to allow the uterus to contract and for the milk to be excreted while breastfeeding. Another thing that’s important about oxytocin is that it’s also the hormone in charge of social interactions, bonding with others and maintaining these relationships, which is crucial for reproduction and the care for our kids. Oxytocin is also called the “love molecule” and it’s what aids mothers bond with their children and it’s responsible for maternal and reproductive behaviors.


Love biology

Social interactions and bonding is essential for survival. Why? Well, firstly because it created enriching experiences and secondly because it helps in reproduction and brain development, as it reduces axiety and stress. If a person is unable to connect with his or her peers, it leads to social exclusion which inevitably causes physical and developmental disorders. Humans are social beings and they need to be involved with other human beings to evolve and develop, both mentally and physically.


The bond between a mother and her child

A healthy bond between a mother and her infant releases oxytocin, which has a positive effect on social behaviors. The hormone’s release can be stimulated through hugging, breastfeeding and similar positive interactions which stimulate the release in both the infant and the mother, creating a strong bond between the two.

On the other hand, a lack of hugging and other normal positive interactions can affect the child’s development negatively and hinder its ability to connect with others socially, since there won’t be a stimulus for oxytocin release and it may lead to further complications.

When the child is born and afterwards, it’s important for it to experience positive social interactions from its mother and undergo a maternal bonding. This is crucial for its emotional and social development later on. According to a study the oxytocin levels in parents of 4 month old infants were dependable on their connection with their infant. Hugging is a positive social interaction which increases the bonding with your child and consequently the oxytocin levels, which helps with the development of a healthier bond between the parents and the child, reduces the stress levels and the risk of social deficits.


In fewer words, when you hug your child or your spouse or someone you care about, you’re not just showing them your affection, but you’re stimulating the release of oxytocin which improves their mental health overall.


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