Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a hug. They are comforting, and they feel safe when in the arms of a person who loves you. The embrace reassures you that everything will be okay. In many cases, a simple hug can help someone heal.
National Hugging Day was created to remind us to hug our family and friends more often. However, we must be mindful that not everyone is comfortable receiving hugs for various reasons. Therefore, we want to make sure we offer hugs, or any other form of physical touch, safely and respectfully. In addition, we want to watch out for non-verbal cues that may indicate that we are to find different ways to express our joy, condolences, or any other emotion that we usually express by giving hugs. However, this does not mean that we should stop hugging everyone altogether. Hugging our children is a great place to start and continue.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m a hugger”? If we’ve ever met in person, I’m sure you’ve heard me say it. I’m most definitely a hugger, and it’s because I’ve experienced such good hugs in my life. The very best was from my grandmother and other older women growing up. They didn’t pat you on the back or make any sudden movements; they just hugged and held on. The safety I felt with every hug was so addicting that I wanted to be a great hugger too. I wanted other people to feel the same way I felt from their embrace. I wanted to become a mom someday and give those same great, big, tight hugs.
I make sure I hug my children as much as possible, and they love it. I love their hugs too. It’s a reassurance that I’m present, and I’m here to hold them as they walk through any challenges they may face. My prayer is that even when I’m not physically here with them anymore, they can still feel my embrace. They will remember it as I do the many warm hugs I received and have given.
What have I learned about hugs? Tons! Besides the many mental and physical benefits, the emotional well-being benefits are hard to ignore.
“Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.” – Princess Diana
At the beginning of the school year, my teenager experienced overwhelming anxiety. He is a Sophomore who had spent his Freshman year at home learning virtually. Although this was his second year in high school, the reality of having to juggle in-person classes, football, and just being a kid became too much for him. There is a difference between sitting in a virtual call with 20 fellow students and a teacher and going to school in person with thousands of kids.
He had an anxiety attack early one morning, and it was alarming. As moms, we love our children so much that we always want to jump into action and solve the problem. We hate to see them hurting, so we want to make it better as quickly as possible. However, this particular morning required me to take a different approach. As much as I wanted him to tell me what was wrong, me asking over and over was not getting a clear response. He didn’t know what was wrong. He just felt overwhelmed. I knew that at that moment, he just needed a hug.
“When you are hugging a child, always be the last one to let go. You never know how long they need it.” – Unknown
As I reached in to my 6’0, 220lb teenager, he fell into my arms as if he was 6-years old all over again. He cried as I embraced and prayed softly for him. I wasn’t going to let go until he gave me some indication that he was ready for me to let him go. So I waited, and in the meantime, I just held him. Eventually, he leaned back and allowed me to wipe his tears. He took a deep breath, we sat down, and then we were able to talk about what he was feeling.
It’s in this moment where he told me he felt nervous about handling it all. He has big goals for himself, both academically and athletically, and he wasn’t sure if he could reach those goals. But he told me that my hug reminded him he wasn’t alone in his pursuit of them. Because I was willing to hold him as long as he needed me to, he knew that he wouldn’t have to face this school year alone. That as parents, we would be here to help guide him through his high school journey and be here to hug him whenever he needed it.
Hugs uplift our mood and make us feel closer and more connected to each other. They release oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, which help us feel good. It is a form of non-verbal communication that communicates very well. Hugs reinforce what you wish to say but don’t know how to say it. They reassure others that we are present and that our children are not alone. It will also reassure you that you also are not alone.
Hugs support our children’s emotional development. You may not have the answers or always know what to say, and that’s okay. Say it with a hug.
“The good thing about hugs: when you give one, you get one too.” – Diana Rowland