In this incredibly fast-paced and demanding world, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. There’s the 9 to 5 job that never ends at 5, and when you get home there’s the kids’ homework to check on. But no matter how busy you get, don’t forget to generously shower your child with affection for parents’ love goes a long way in determining how happy, healthy and successful your child will grow up to be!
Yes, parents’ love is the most important thing a child needs. Research done over the past decade sheds light on the correlation between parent’s love and childhood health and happiness in the future.
Science proves that parents who unconditionally shower their children with warmth and affection create life-long positive outcomes for them.
Children thrive on parents’ love. Affectionate parents raise children with higher self esteem, better academic performance and improved parent-child communication. It’s also highly unlikely that children who were raised affectionately will have psychological or behavioural problems.
There are studies to affirm this. A 2010 study at Duke University Medical School followed approximately 500 candidates from infancy to their 30’s. The discovery? Babies whose mums showered them with affection and attention grew up to be happier, more resilient and less anxious adults!
How did they gather their findings?
The study was done on a sample size of approximately 500 babies. Here’s the interesting part, the study was done over the course of 30 years!
When the babies were just eight months old, psychologists observed how their mothers interacted with them. 10% of the mothers showed the babies low affection, 85% showed normal affection and about 6% showered their infants with high levels of affection.
The researchers revisited these infants (who were then full grown adults) 30 years down the road and interviewed them about their emotional health. Turns out that the 6% who were were given high levels of affection were less stressed and anxious than the others. They were also less likely to report hostility, distressing social interactions and psychosomatic symptoms.
See what we mean when we say that parents’ love goes a long way!
Likewise, a 2013 study by UCLA found unconditional parental love and affection makes children emotionally happier and less anxious. This is attributed to changes that happen in the brain when a child is given affection.
To further affirm this, a 2015 study by the University of Notre Dame showed that the more affection a child gets, the less likely the child is to display signs of depression and anxiety. Parents’ love also makes children grow up to be more compassionate individuals.
The science behind it
Researchers have come to a conclusion that the hormone oxytocin (also known as the love hormone) may be behind this effect. Oxytocin is a chemical in the brain that is released when a person feels love and emotional warmth and connection.
Skin to skin contact
Similar to affection, this special bond between a mother and child, helps to calm babies. This results in less crying and better sleeping. And here’s an added bonus – it boosts brain development!
Studies have proven that children in an environment such as an orphanage, which does not give them access to parents’ love, affection and bonding, have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, in comparison to those who live with their parents.
Again, science attributes this to the lack of physical contact between mother and child.
Where physical touch is concerned, massage is also a great way to reduce anxiety in children. Parents can start massaging their children from infancy and this paves the way for physical and emotional bonding. The effects are similar to skin-to-skin contact and getting high levels of affection.
On the other side of things
We’ve talked about the myriad of benefits of parents’ love and affection. On the other hand, children whose parents aren’t affectionate, or those who were subjected to childhood abuse are more likely to have lower self-esteem, feel more alienated, are hostile, aggressive and antisocial.
How to be more affectionate?
Now that you know how important parents’ love is, here are some simple ways to shower your little ones with more affection and tender loving care.
1. The power of touch
From the first time you hold your baby, hold her, touch her, rock her. Spend as much time as you can caressing your baby and creating opportunities for skin to skin contact.
Why so serious mums and dads? Play, dance, get silly, pretend to hug a monster! Playing and having fun creates a more affectionate environment.
3. Remind yourselves to hug
Set an alarm if you have to and remind yourself to hug your child at certain times of the day. Of course, the more the merrier! Some important hugs that you should not forget about include the hugs before they set off to school, when they get home, before they sleep and so on.
4. Discipline with love
When our kids act up, it’s only natural to lose our cool. But please control your emotions and keep calm. Never discipline a child in anger for you may end up doing something you later regret. As you discpline them, put your hand on their shoulder or give them a hug when you are done.
Make it clear to them that while you are upset with them, you still love them.
Having said all of these, do also remember to do everything within reason. Don’t smother your child and respect what they are comfortable with. And you must be prepared that their comfort level changes as they get older!