Hugs can just make a person feel better. Clinical psychologist Lisa Damour explains, “Good contact helps soothe the nervous system and plays an important role in regulating emotions.”
During the challenging times of the pandemic, it could be argued that many children and adults need hugs now more than ever. But physical affection is hard to come by as people keep their distance from one another to avoid getting sick. Damour says without as many playdates, sports, and opportunities for community contact, many children could be getting the physical contact they need from their immediate families, but not all families have the same culture around hugs, so some families could be missing signs their children need a little extra affection.
Clinical psychologist Sheri Madigan says you can always ask your kids what they need. She explains, “It is as simple as saying, to younger kids, ‘Do you want to cuddle?’ And make it clear that you will take no for an answer. No hard feelings. For teenagers, especially if they are hurting, I think it is great to say, ‘Can I give you a hug?’”
There are also other ways to show affection to a child, including leaving a little love note in their lunch box, cramming out the couch of a movie, or even climbing into a blanket fort together. The experts add that one of the most important components of good, helpful physical affection is ensuring that it’s driven by the child, and not just a hug because the parent or caregiver wants one. (CNN)