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Science Says Hugging More Means Happier Kids

Each time you give your child a hug, you are doing them a world of good – both emotionally and physically. In fact, there’s new research that says the more you hug your child and show affection, the happier your child will be in life.

In fact, there are many benefits when it comes to showing your children affection. A study by Duke University Medical School found that babies with very affectionate and attentive mothers grew up to be much happier, resilient teens and adults. As a matter of fact, they also became less anxious and stressed over all.

The study followed 500 people from their infant stage until adulthood. When the study participants were about 8 months old, researchers observed the interactions between the mothers and the babies. They rated the mother’s affection and attention level on a five-point scale. Nearly 10 percent of the participants should low levels of affection while 85 percent should about a normal amount of affection. About six percent of the mothers showed high levels of affection for their babies.

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The researchers then surveyed the same individuals 30 years later in life and found that those who were shown more affection as babies had happier, healthier lives. Those participants who were cuddled and hugged more showed less signs of hostility, distressing social interactions and psychosomatic symptoms.

Credit: iStock / Kosamtu

That’s because the hormone oxytocin may be responsible for this effect. Oxytocin is normally defined as a hormone released by the pituitary gland that causes increased contraction of the uterus during labor and stimulates the ejection of milk into the ducts of the breasts. But, it’s also called the “cuddle hormone.”

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Furthermore, oxycotin helps promote mother and child bonding. A study published in 2007 also found that the higher a mom's oxytocin levels in the first trimester of pregnancy, the more likely she was to engage in bonding behaviors such as singing to or bathing her baby. The hormone plays an important role in motivation and feelings of connectedness to a baby. It’s also been noted though that oxytocin can also intensify memories of bonding gone bad, such as in cases where men have poor relationships with their mothers.

So in other words, the more you interact, cuddle, hug, and spend time with your child, the happier and he or she will be later in life.

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