The power of touch

Babies who get physical affection seem to have better chances of being happy adults.This is a response to the oxytocin they’ve released when feeling love and connection.

Did you know hugging your baby can make them succeed?
The brain starts developing already in the womb, but the skills to use it comes after birth. During the child’s development, the child learns the patterns that are repeatedly shown to them and slowly develop their way to show emotions independently. Many studies highlight the relationship between parental affection and children’s happiness, health and success in the future.

It’s been studied that if certain experiences don’t happen during the crucial stages in development, it’ll decrease brain development in places called the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Places that are showing a primary role in developing memory, decision making, and emotional responses. Also hormones called serotonin, cortisol, dopamine are a huge part of our behavior, mental health, stress levels, learning, motivation, and cognitive development.

Even though it will take some time for a baby to be able to verbalize their feelings, the studies show the importance of teaching this to infants. Babies that are given physical and emotional affection tend to cry less and sleep better. Studies show that these babies’ brain development is boosted, facilitated and more constructed. A newborn is coming from a very restrictive environment. Everything that simulates their former conditions in the womb, comforts them. Being hugged and hearing the heartbeat again is familiar to them because that’s what they’ve heard for the past 9 months. High self esteem, improved academic performance, communication skills and self awareness are also linked to this kind of affection. Studies show that children who receive a lot of physical affection have higher levels of hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones affect your emotions and social bonding. The lack of these skills tend to cause aggressive behaviour, depression and suicidal tendencies in later life. People who lacked affection as children also struggled with mental health, were more upset in social situations, and less able to relate to other people.

Studies also show that infants who lacked touch and affection, had higher levels of a stress-hormone called cortisol. These changes were seen in those people even as adults. Scientists believe that the lack of physical contact had a major effect in those physical changes. The babies who received affection as babies are less likely to feel anxiety, hostility, stress and psychosomatic symptoms. Babies that receive so-called “harsh parenting” are promoting insecure attachment. As grown ups, it’s likely for these adults to lack skills in emotional behavior and social relationships. As adults, instead of good behavior and independence, they are shown to be hesitant, insecure and unable to express themselves freely. They tend to have more trouble in self awareness and have more trust issues.

Sentiments that state that too much warmth and affection will lead to a clingy and unindependent adults are proven wrong by science. By showing the child that punishment does not mean reduction of parental love, the child learns to navigate healthy boundaries better as an adult .

Taika Soihtu

spsp: How a Parent’s Affection Shapes a Child’s Happiness
scientificamerican: How Important Is Physical Contact with Your Infant?
urbanchildinstitute: No Such Thing As Too Much Love
babysensory: The Power Of Touch
psychcentral: How Being Unloved in Childhood May Affect You as an Adult
duodecim: Tunteet, varhainen vuorovaikutus ja aivojen toiminnallinen kehitys

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