05 Nov Feature of the month : A Hug A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
Physical affection is something we often take lightly, almost to the mundane necessity such as a handshake or a peck on the cheek. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine stresses that physical contact is essential across a person’s lifespan. Positive touch helps the physical body stay healthy as it triggers pressure receptors under the skin and lowers the heart rate. This slows down breath, decreases stress hormones and boosts the immune system.
Skin-to-skin contact is evidently vital as a baby is immediately placed on a mother’s bare skin when it is born. This touch provides security and warmth as well as other physiological benefits. However, as the years go by, parents tend to have less physical contact with their children and sometimes, none at all. Studies have proven that the lack of affectionate touch leads to higher stress, increased aggression and negative social behaviours.
At the other end of the spectrum, negative or aggressive touch can be harmful and as such, it is important to know how to touch the other person. Depending on the age, holding hands, rubbing the hair, tickling, kissing the cheeks or head, putting an arm around them, hugging or letting them sit on your lap when they are tired or scared, are some ways to show positive affection to a child.
Even as adults, we know that affectionate touch is enjoyable and communicates feelings of love, comfort and safety. So, hugging your child will benefit you as well. Although public display of affection is frowned upon by certain cultures, it is important to realise that human relationships are the most important aspect of a person’s life. So, the next time you feel like hugging or kissing your child, don’t hesitate or worry that you will over-pamper him/her because positive physical contact has immeasurable benefits for both you and your child.