Kids Of All Ages Need Hugs
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
What does a hug do for you? To a very few, it feels like an invasion into their personal space. You can tell that when they back away and stiffen as you try to put your arms around them. I am not sure what has created such a reaction, but I can say it seems very sad. They are missing out. Missing out on what?
To me, a hug is a sure sign of acceptance, of reassurance, of comfort, of care and in many cases, of love on the part of the person giving the hug. To open one's arms to another is a sign of vulnerability on their part.
When a person feels the arms of another around them they are letting their guard down to feel the warmth and experience the love and care of that person.
I don't think we can ever underestimate the value of a hug. We, who experience frequent hugs, don't always realize how fortunate we are. People who lose their partners or friends have told me that the greatest thing they miss is human touch. Research states that hugs cure depression, boost the immune system, reduce stress, induce sleep, and invigorate and rejuvenate the mind and body. It is commonly said that it takes four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs a day to maintain a strong emotional level, and twelve hugs a day to grow.
I saw a great clip on "YouTube" showing a guy named Juan Mann walking down Pitt Street in Sydney, Australia, with a big sign saying, "Free hugs". Initially, nobody would go near him, but then a little old lady tapped him on the arm and asked for a hug because her dog had died that day and it was the anniversary of her daughter's death. One hug started an avalanche, one guy actually hurling himself at the hugger. Then the police banned Juan from hugging without $250,000 insurance in case he hurt someone. He raked in the required 10,000 protester signatures and was allowed to continue. He even hugged a policeman.
If hugs are so beneficial to our wellbeing, then why do we not proactively pursue hugging one another? It has been said that most adults love to hug babies and animals, but some hesitate to hug another adult because they fear rejection. Physical touch of any kind has been banned in some schools. My husband, Brian, has been working with children all of his work life and these days he is not supposed to comfort a child except to talk to them (but he often 'forgets'!). He says many kids run up and hug him and, although he doesn't discourage it, he cannot overtly respond.
Kids are crying out for assurance through human touch, especially from their parents. When they have been disciplined they need to be assured by parental touch (such as a hug) that the parent is seeking behavioral change and is not rejecting the child.
Giving a hug is a choice. It takes an effort. It requires our acceptance of others. If you haven't been a hugger, then here are some starter suggestions: Look at people as you walk down the street, and as you catch their eye, smile at them. When you see a need, ask if you can help. Say a kind word. Say, "Thank you." Say you are sorry. All of these things validate the other person. When you see others' responses, then you will feel more confident to actually reach out and touch or hug another person.
Hug your kids and encourage them to be huggers, too. Hug your friends and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. You may even be bold like Juan Mann and hug strangers. You will never know how this simple act of giving someone else value can change their perspective on life.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.