To a kid who doesn’t like kisses, hugs are everything

Friday, June 16th, 2017

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I have talked many, many times about how important it is to make sure your child knows they are the ones who make decisions for their bodies. In our family, this often means having our offer of kisses turned down by our youngest daughter whenever we offer them.

This, we know, is fine, even though it would be wonderful for us if she gave us those kisses. The trade off for not getting a kiss is helping raise a strong, independent child who knows they are in charge of their bodies. It’s really not a trade off at all, it’s a great deal.

What we notice with this same daughter though, is that she is a hug machine. She loves being held.

She asks for hugs when she is trying to calm her emotions. She asks for hugs whenever we get to scary parts of movies. She asks for hugs when she is trying to get to sleep. She loves being held, and as parents, we love holding her. Even when it is overwhelmingly obvious she is asking for hugs only to delay bedtime. Maybe even especially then.

The vulnerability of a hug makes them great for bonding

Hug time is often our best bonding time. It’s in the middle of hugs that my daughter talks about her friends. It is when she tells me someone was bullying her that day. It is when she tells me she is afraid of bad guys. It is when she tells me she is going to grow up to be a unicorn rider.

I remember the first hugs of both of my daughters. Holding my oldest daughter in the hospital during our skin-to-skin time was one of the most instrumental moments in my life to help my shove past the “men don’t get emotional” mindset too many people carry. Men do get emotional, men should get emotional. Hugs are a great opportunity to show your children that as an adult you are able to support them, but also that you are vulnerable too. I can’t tell you how many times it has been me who has turned to my daughters for hugs as opposed to how we traditionally offer them up only as support for them.

holding daughter for first time

And now with our youngest daughter, I continue to learn how important it is that our children know we are emotionally available to them and that we need them as much as they do.

holding youngest daughter for first time

The benefits are plenty

I’m partnering with Huggies to talk about the importance of skin-to-skin contact with your kids as part of that first hug right after they’re born. There are actually plenty of benefits of skin-to-skin hugs provided by dads for their children, including:

  • Better interaction behaviour of fathers with their infants.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety experienced by fathers.
  • Better infant behavioural responses.
  • Improved bio-psychological markers.

Expecting parents can download and complete a Hug Plan with their partner, which acts as an extension of a traditional birth plan, to ensure their new baby receives important skin-to-skin hugs immediately after birth. This tool can help you and your partner plan for hugs regardless of happens during labour–from having multiples to a C-section–and ensuring all babies receive the hugs they need to thrive.

Happy Father’s Day dads, go hug your kids.

*I was compensated for participating in this program.

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