Hugging fortifies a child’s self-esteem and overall development
A strong and healthy self esteem might be one of the most important things a child should develop as it will help him to better handle the numerous challenges of life. Hence, helping a child feel loved and valuable should be encouraged as much as good nutrition and health care are.
But, ¿how might we achieve that goal? As a starting point, parents can try practicing something so simple as hugging their babies. Studies show how important is the act of hugging for building a child's healthy self esteem, disposition, and overall development. Unfortunately, nowadays various circumstances prevent both parents from interacting with their little ones.
The Child Development Institute posted an
article about helping children to develop a positive self-image. Among other things, the author mentions that
self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and our behavior clearly reflects those feelings. For example, a child or teen with high self-esteem will be able to:
"First Hug" nurtures abandoned babies in Israeli hospitals
The Hug that helped change medicine
"Daddy hugs" (children books)
Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., on Touch
On the other hand, a child with low self-esteem will:
- act independently
- assume responsibility
- take pride in his accomplishments
- tolerate frustration
- attempt new tasks and challenges
- handle positive and negative emotions
- offer assistance to others
As children will comprise the next adult population, society as a whole should care about how each and every child develops their self-image through their early years. But, where to start? Studies show that bonding by physical contact is very helpful for the baby's development. Hence, parents may start by hugging their babies and making them feel loved and appreciated. Letitia Ho, Ph.D., a developmental pediatrician from the Philipines says
hugging is a gesture of affirmation, appreciation, and acknowledgment. A child who is hugged often acquires a positive self-concept, whereas a child who is hug-starved or doesn’t receive any other form of affirmation at home will start asking ‘Am I loved here?’
- avoid trying new things
- feel unloved and unwanted
- blame others for his own shortcomings
- feel, or pretend to feel, emotionally indifferent
- be unable to tolerate a normal level of frustration
- put down his own talents and abilities
- be easily influenced
Hugging and praising our children can be assumed by most of us as a given. However, there could be some factors that interfere with such events. For example:
Sadly, those factors seem to prove that under certain circumstances giving a hug, which is apparently an effortless act of love and care, might be the most difficult thing to do.
- Lack of work-life balance. Both parents are trapped by their hectic schedules and are left with little to no time to bond with their children. In the case of low income families, both parents may have more than one job.
- Coming from a touch-deprived culture. As a parent, how can I be naturally affectionate and hug my child if I was deprived of such experience during my chidlhood?
- Emotional abuse. What if I'm a single mom that was abandoned by the baby's father because of the pregnancy?
- Socioeconomic situation. A newborn instead of bringing joy will become a burden for a family that can barely survive every day life due to poverty.
- Health issues. What if I expected to love my baby, but she was born sick and I'm not sure if I want to keep her?
- Lack of parenting skills.
Hands on Research: The Science of Touch