THE POWER OF A HUG | Children experience stress and anxiety similar to adults, but may express it in different ways. Often when adults feel stressed, through both verbal and nonverbal communication, children can feel the impact. Unintentionally, children can interpret parents’ actions towards them in ways that increase their own stress level. Because of this, some children can react with more aggression or acts of withdrawal. It is
important that while adults recognize their own stress and anxiety to consider how to help children
process their stress as well.
Though simple, the power of a hug can provide many benefits. Taking a moment to ask a child if they want a hug can ease tension quickly. Children want to know that they are loved, valued, accepted, and most of all that they are cared for, especially during stressful moments. The dual benefit of a hug also helps adults to take a moment to breathe.
During times of stress, when emotions have been high, I have come down to my four-year-old son’s
level and asked him if he would like a hug. Almost always, the answer has been “yes” which seems to
melt the stress and anxiety away. Children still want to feel loved, even if they are experiencing big
emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, or disappointment. In that moment, a hug brings security,
reaffirms relationship, and establishes value. I can sometimes hear a sigh of relief as he begins to calm
after giving him a hug. Hugs have a way to Maximize Love, Manage Stress go beyond words
By Airreia Pierce, Educator, Author and Speaker