Friday, September 2, 2011

Vitamin H, and how hugs can reinvent your child.

When I saw the ‘Hugs’ video for the first time.. all I wanted to do was see it again.
It brought so much warmth to my heart, and a truth to face.

We all need hugs. Those warm embraces that show us that we are loved and cared for. Those little cocoons of warmth and peace. I don’t know what the coding in our brain is that guides us to reach out to another human being with open arms, but it’s a natural, instinctive way of showing love, of communicating.

Open arms say, Come to me... I’m here for you. You stubbed your toe? Daddy is here for you. You feel sad your friend was mean? Mummy is here. 

We’ve been hugged when in pain - when people go away, when you meet long lost friends, or say goodbye at the airport... Hugs.. for when the words are short... and the arms are long. When you cannot write poems or speeches.. and let the heart... beating softly against another, do the talking.

And sometimes,a heart may be thundering loudly. Like when we are afraid of something, and need comforting, or if hugging just seems scary to us.

Yup, many of us haven’t learned how to. Maybe because of culture, or because of taboos, and true stories*. Or because we’ve been wounded before and are afraid to be vulnerable, to trust. (Y’know when a dog lies on its back, asking to be rubbed, it is completely open to attack, showing you that it trusts you.) Hugs are similar. Beginning with open arms.

And yes, many of us just don’t know how. My dad didn’t for a long time and it took several painful attempts to get him to hug back. (Imagine putting your arms around a cupboard, and expecting it to hug you back. Grin grin. He will not win the champions trophy for it yet, but baby, it’s a good beginning.)

Kids who haven’t been hugged, find it difficult to reciprocate, and please know this, will lose out on some profound loving. Yes, it’s not the easiest thing to be vulnerable. To put down the barriers and allow people. or another human being into your space, but it’s time we surrendered those fears, and conditioning for some 22K love. And the easiest place to begin, is with our kids... who trust us with all of their being. Even trusting us to feed the toy camel his tea snack while they are at school. 

They need your hugs, so hug them.
After the war in Bosnia, orphan kids that were hugged, and sung to, responded far better that those in other facilities that didn’t get much attention.
Newborns reach for the warmth of their mothers, the moment they are born.
To express our love through touch is in our DNA.
Yes, some of us, shy away from it...but its the essential vitamins our kids needs, a million times more important that the ‘fortified’ stuff you add to their milk.

Oh, I could read you all the research on how a hug will make a child more confident, happier, loving, emotionally strong, will use his brain far better..., but I won’t. You can simply shut your eyes and remember the times that you felt wanted and loved, and safe in a hug... and you’ll nod, knowing the strength it brings.  

What’s more, hugs will teach you to love better. Case 1: Curly haired waif says to her parents,  after their little argument, ‘Hug and make up’, and, who can not but obey a darling 4 year old.

So when it comes to hugging your own child, don’t be stingy.
Make it two hugs a day for your kids. That’s the minimum. One on your way out (or when you wake). One when you return (or before you sleep). Upper limit? You decide. Because at the end of day, you’re just getting back all the lovin’ that you give. and you need it too. You need it too.

*(child sexual abuse. Yes, we need to be careful. We will talk more about that in another post.) 

Note - Don’t hug kids that don’t want to be hugged. That’s simply not respecting their space. Remember how you hated it when some aunt you didn’t like insisted on grabbing you? Many boys usually over 8 years - don’t want to be hugged. Let them be. 


  1. Very touching.. and am sure many parents will relate to it and hey y should it be restricted to parents only... go hug some one today..

  2. How true, at first people are always wary of a hug but it is infectious and catches on. And a hug does do so much to lift your spirits and make u feel appreciated and loved. Thank you for the article. I think it's brilliant - looking forward to the next one.

    The strange fact is that although kids who are getting into their teens go through a phase of don't hug me (my daughter sometimes says that's so gayish!) but u know heart of hearts they are longing for that sign of affection - so i would say even if your kids are shy of hugging (don't hug them or kiss them when their friends are around) they don't like that - but keep giving them a hug and an affirmation - that they are wonderful and u love them. I know of grown up boys (in their 20s) who still want their parents to hug them often! So, for those 8 yr old boys u are talking about - they would still want their parents to hug them even if they resist in the beginning and think it uncool...of course, they won't want any stranger or aunty uncle hugging them...But since it's about parents, I think...parents should hug their kids whatever age they are...and kids should hug parents too coz everyone needs love!

  3. ralive, the grom - thank you. :)
    Frances - True, so true. Very insightful, really. Many times kids (and adults too) won't ask for affection. Either because they've been rejected before, or they think it's not cool, or because our culture has defined that as 'weak'. But as adults we can learn to grow the courage to show affection, and let them follow.