As parents, we are bombarded daily with parenting advice. We have to learn to weed through the noise and follow what makes sense for our own families. The importance of affection in parenting is one, well researched guideline that many would have a hard time debating and all could benefit in following.
If you were to take a peek at my storage room today, I will tell you exactly what you would see. Bins upon bins of baby, toddler and children’s clothing. In the same way that I accumulated containers of baby clothes over the last seven years, I have also retained a plethora of parenting advice – this, stored in my mind. Some of it I asked for and a lot of it was unsolicited. Some I’ve stashed in the deepest part of my subconscious knowing I will never, ever use it and some have been absolute GOLD for our family. I want to share one of these little treasures with you today!
Moms, I get it, we live busy sometimes stressful lives. The to-do list is endless and the burden of making sure our kids have all the tools they need to be healthy, productive and kind human beings is overwhelming at times. We are bombarded daily with suggestions on what we should or should not be doing. We are told how much money we should be spending on preparing them for their future. Honestly, with all the advice being thrown our way we forget some of the simplest, tried and true approaches to raising great kids. I have one works and it’s free! It’s a little thing called affection.
One of the most important things we can do on a daily basis is stop and give our kids a big-lovin squeeze! Science and research supports the importance of affection in parenting. Affection shown to kids by their parents results in lifelong positive outcomes. Some of the areas that could be affected positively are self-esteem, mental health, behavior and communication. Studies have shown that kids who did not grow up in affectionate homes struggled in these areas. Affection from mom and dad shows kids they are loved. It shows them they are valuable. When our kids feel loved and valued, they’ll be less likely to search for those things in other relationships.
Now I get it, many of us did not grow up in overly affectionate homes and showing care and love in a physical way may be way out of our comfort zone! And then there are some of us who just aren’t the touchy, feely type – it’s just not natural to us and feels uncomfortable. If that is you, try looking at it the way we approach food and nutrition with our kids. Although we may not necessarily like vegetables ourselves, we know our children need them in order to grow up healthy and strong. Therefore, we serve them at our meals. Sometimes we have to push through the uncomfortable in order to reap the benefits.
Another important piece to remember is something my pastors mention during their yearly parenting series – “kids are terrible at doing what you tell them to do and amazing at doing what they see you do.” It is crucial to not only teach your children to be affectionate and generous with their words and compliments but also for them to see you do it. Be intentional with your partner to show affection toward each other in front of the kids – for example: holding hands, hugging each other, giving each other kisses, complimenting each other, saying “I love you” or doing something nice for one another. These loving interactions show your kids what a healthy relationship looks like. This also helps children feel safe and secure.
If all of this sounds out of your norm, try these easy ways to incorporate more affection into your family culture. If you are not the hugging type, set a reminder on your phone or watch so you can make sure that your kids are receiving physical attention from you daily. Use this time to tell them how much you love them and how proud of them you are! Hey, the trolls had “hug time” set hourly! Another easy way to show affection is to incorporate it into your playtime – tickle monster, kissing attacks, wrestling, special handshakes, brushing or braiding hair etc. Finally, a great time to show your kids affection is while you discipline. This could mean holding their hands while you get down to their level or having a heart-to-heart or a hug while you explain why their behavior needs to improve. The importance of affection in parenting cannot be ignored as it ensures that kids feel loved at all times!