We all live busy, stressful lives and have endless concerns as parents, but it is clear that one of the most important things we need to do is to stop and give our kids a big loving squeeze.
Research over the past decade highlights the link between affection in childhood and health and happiness in the future. Science supports the idea that warmth and affection expressed by parents to their children results in life-long positive outcomes for those children.
Higher self esteem, improved academic performance, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems have been linked to this type of affection.
On the other hand, children who do not have affectionate parents tend to have lower self esteem and to feel more alienated, hostile, aggressive, and antisocial.
In a research, psychologists did a study on the effects of parental behavior on young children. When the babies were eight months old, psychologists observed their mothers’ interactions with them as they took several developmental tests. The psychologists rated the mother’s affection and attention level on a five-point scale, ranging from “negative” to “extravagant.”
Nearly 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.
Then 30 years later, those same individuals were interviewed about their emotional health. The adults whose mothers showed “extravagant” or “caressing” affection were much less likely than the others to feel stressed and anxious.
They were also less likely to report hostility, distressing social interactions, and psychosomatic symptoms.On the other hand, the negative impact of childhood abuse and lack of affection impacts children both mentally and physically. This can lead to all kinds of health and emotional problems throughout their lives. What’s really fascinating is that scientists think parental affection can actually protect individuals against the harmful effects of childhood stress.
use affection while disciplining your child
As you talk to them about what they did wrong, put your hand on their shoulder and give them a hug at the end of the conversation to ensure them that, even if you are not pleased with their behavior, you still love them.
If your children hit their sister or brother, hug them and explain how hugging feels better than hitting.
Finally, be careful not to go overboard and smother your kids. Respect their individual comfort level, and be aware that this will change as they go through different stages.