It’s no secret that hugs change everything. However, on Valentine’s day, it’s important to emphasize this key element of healthy relationships and here’s why. With human touch, children and adults tend to thrive when we get it and suffer greatly when we don’t.
As a college professor of psychology, I’m always searching for studies that showcase key elements of human development. As such, I want to share one of my favorite findings on the power of hugs and how it relates to premature infants and adults on this Valentine’s day.
The science behind hugs
When premature infants are placed in intensive care units, which provide all of the necessary elements of a life support system, they still lack one thing: the human touch. Back in 1996 Tiffany Field, of Miami University, asked the question, “What difference would it make if some of the premature infants received daily message sessions while they remained inside their incubators?”
Field’s research proved to be significant. It showed that the preemies who received a gentle touch and gestures of fondness for 45 minutes per day for 10 days gained 47% more weight than the preemies who did not receive messages while in their incubators. Keep in mind that aside from the daily massage sessions both groups of preemies received the identical level of human interaction during incubation. Even so, the caressed preemies showed faster neurological development and were more active and alert than their age-mates.
And that was just part of the story! When researchers followed up 8 months after discharge, the caressed preemies still showed a weight advantage as well as better cognitive and motor development than their age-mates. Field’s research and that of others showed that human touch is powerful. It can slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure during distress, and speed recovery from illness. The consequences of being touched in gentle, affectionate, and loving ways are extremely significant for our physical health.
The Power behind hugs
At In Touch Parenting, be believe that human touch is not just nice to have; it’s an absolute requirement for healthy human growth and development!
It’s no secret that human touch is extremely significant for our sense of security and emotional well-being. So… have you hugged your child today? Even more, have you hugged him in a way that he can feel your affection come through? So, go ahead and walk over to your children right now and cup their cute little face in your hands and love on ’em. Their growth and emotional well-being depend on it!
A Point to Ponder
I know that as adults we can downplay the significance of something as simple as a hug. However, since it’s Valentine’s day, walk over to that person you call important and look that person in the eye. Next, open up your loving arms and give him or her a BIG FAT HUG… and don’t let go!