In a culture where giving birth to a disabled child is seen as a curse and when the burden of caring for such a child is more than most can afford, many children are thrown away.
When we met her the little girl was withdrawn and unresponsive. One of our missionaries sat her on his knee and gently hugged her. It took a while but in time she began to respond and finally a little smile slipped across her face. I wonder if she had ever been hugged … if she’d ever experience love expressed in human touch?
It was a beautiful thing to see the difference a hug made.
Research has discovered just how important human touch is and the many health benefits of hugging.
- Hugging relaxes muscles, reducing stress and tension
- Hugs boost oxytocin levels which help reduce loneliness and depression and promotes heart health
- Hugs increase serotonin levels which can help mood balance, sleep, appetite and digestion
- Hugging can increase the production of dopamine in your brain, and this can be seen in PET scans of the brain. Dopamine levels are low in people with conditions like Parkinsonism and mood disorders like depression
- Hugs can lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
A good way to make a difference in 20 seconds!
Give your children more hugs and less things. When children throw a tantrum or scream uncontrollably its easy to be concerned that a hug will reward bad behaviour but hugging a distressed child during a meltdown is not rewarding his bad behaviour. You are giving him support while he learns to regulate his emotions, just as you hold his hand to support him until he learns to walk unaided.
Hugs are free and a beautiful gift to give another human being ... give them generously and often.