In February every year we are surrounded by the images and sounds of romantic love, from heart-shaped balloons in the checkout aisle to boxes of chocolate; there’s no escaping the madness. But let’s not forget that love is about more than just schmaltzy songs and cards that will probably be in the trash tomorrow. The love and affection that we create within our families, and show to our children, lasts longer than any material thing and has a long-term impact on adult lives.
It is easy to see that children who grow up in a loving environment are comfortable in their own skins. But this ease and confidence goes beyond just day to day socialising. Numerous studies have proven that being shown love and affection in early childhood can have a positive impact on emotional well-being, general health and brain development in children.
We also know that cuddling releases oxytocin, a hormone that improves happiness and a sense of connection to others. Children with higher oxytocin levels are more trusting and communicate easily, and have a higher functioning immune system, which means better overall health. So perhaps the most important thing we can do for our children might not be extra lessons or more toys, but a simple hug and a cuddle.
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