Do You Hug Your Child Enough?

As a kid, my family gave lots of hugs — hugs to say goodbye, hugs to say hello, hugs to give comfort, or hugs just because. One of my best friends, on the other hand, grew up in a family that rarely if ever gave hugs. They still loved each other, but they just weren’t “huggy.”

I’m not saying that one family culture is better than the other. We all have different family dynamics, and that’s okay! But whatever your family culture, research shows that every family can benefit from providing plenty of parental love and affection.

This is especially true when it comes to hugging. Here are just a few of the ways hugs can help your children.

1. Hugs can protect against stress.

Hugging your children can of course help them feel supported and loved. But that’s not all! Research shows that more frequent hugs can actually help with stress (1). Hugs reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can help someone calm down when they’re feeling stressed out (2). And since the American Psychological Association found that almost a third of kids experience physical stress-related symptoms, it’s important to provide that support and stress-relief for your kids (3).

2. Hugs can improve physical health.

Being too stressed out can be hard on your immune system and your health in general. But by giving more frequent hugs, you may be able to help your children be healthier!

Research from Carnegie Mellon University found that people who felt more social support and were hugged more frequently were also less likely to get sick (1).

3. Hugs can help you connect.

Besides helping your children deal with stress and improving their physical health, hugging your kids can be great for your relationship. Hugging increases your levels of oxytocin, often called the “cuddle hormone” (2).

Researcher Dr. Matt Hertenstein explains that oxytocin “lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people” (2). As you hug your child, both of you get that extra kick of oxytocin that can help you connect with each other.

A Hug A Day!

You may not have grown up in a particularly huggy home, and that’s okay. But giving your kids hugs can help them in a lot of ways! Psychologist Tiffany Field said, “Like diet and exercise, you need a steady daily dose of hugging”(4).

So to help protect your kids from stress, improve their health, and better connect with them, try giving at least a hug a day.

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1. Rea, S. (2014, December 17). Hugs help protect against stress and infection, say Carnegie Mellon researchers. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University website:

2. Trudeau, M. (2010, September 20). Human connections start with a friendly touch. Retrieved from

3. Stressed in America. (2011, January). Monitor on Psychology, 42(1), 60. Retrieved from American Psychological Association website:

4. Colino, S. (2016, February 3). The health benefits of hugging. Retrieved from

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