Kisses and hugs are food for the soul, especially in the first years of life. Pampering that soothes and makes people laugh, hugs that comfort and kisses that fill should not be missing from children’s daily lives.
Kissing is not just a universal expression of affection, but also promotes emotional connection. However, as children get older, it is common to distance themselves physically, especially when the rush, stress or laziness of the routine swallow up the attention of the parents. So it’s easy to forget about goodnight kisses or just stick with a hasty kiss.
The magic of kisses in child development
Giving a kiss can seem like such a simple gesture that it’s easy to forget its great emotional significance and all the benefits it brings. In fact, kisses have enormous “healing” power. By transmitting security and love, they can soothe the pain of a fall and the crying of children. They are a kind of life saver when things go wrong and frustration or sadness appears.
The beneficial effect of kisses is related to the changes they produce at the brain level. It has been proven that kissing can release a cocktail of chemicals, such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, which activate the pleasure centers. As a result, they lower cortisol levels and lessen pain and emotional distress.
Physical affection, expressed through kisses and hugs, also contributes to the emotional stability of the little ones. A study conducted at Brown University revealed that children who received more physical affection from their parents in the form of hugs and kisses were more likely to become emotionally stable adults. They also showed less anxiety, more energy, felt more self-confident, and were kinder to others.
The power of hugs and kisses is not limited to the emotional sphere. A research conducted with orphaned children in Romania in the 1990s, showed that those who received less affection from their adoptive parents had stunted physical growth and emotional development. Therefore, physical expressions of affection also promote infant growth.
Undoubtedly, parental kisses become a haven of calm, they provide the essential protection and confidence that children need to recover. Through kisses, parents express their support and understanding, strengthening the emotional bond with their children, to remind them that they will be by their side when they need it most.
A flattering nighttime ritual: Why shouldn’t you end the day without kissing your children?
As parents, it is extremely important that we dedicate to our children a time of emotional connection in which there is no shortage of kisses, hugs and pampering, especially before bed. A kiss from full presence is a wonderful way to show children how much we love them. For this reason, they should never be missing, not even when they get older and that feeling arises that they are no longer needed as much as before.
For children, falling asleep with the memory of the kiss, that caress on the face and the “I love you” from mom and dad is extremely beneficial. Not only is it a pleasant moment that will help them wind down to sleep, but these displays of affection will also make them feel loved, important, and valued.
In fact, goodnight kisses have a deep symbolic meaning. They are a reaffirmation of the connection between father and son. They are also a statement of intent because they point out that no matter what kind of day we’ve had, that kiss seals the commitment to our love and support for each other.
Goodnight kisses are a reminder to your children that they are special to you and that your love is unconditional. They also carry with them the promise that tomorrow will be a new day with new beginnings and a promise of hope for the future.
Also, that goodnight kiss is not only beneficial for children, its power extends to parents. That moment of connection and love, lived from calm, involvement and awareness, will help them recharge their batteries and free themselves from the stress of the day, turning their eyes towards what really counts.
That intimate moment of love and connection will be replicated later in life. The children will always carry it in their memory and it is probable that later on they will replicate it with their own children, closing a virtuous circle of love. In short, there is no better way for children and parents than to say goodbye to the day with a kiss, to go to sleep with a heart full of love after spending those magical moments on the edge of the bed.
Maselko, J. et. Al. (2011) Mother’s affection at 8 months predicts emotional distress in adulthood. J Epidemiol Community Health; 65(7): 621–625.
Carter, C. S. (1998) Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology; 23(8): 779-818.
Chisholm, K. (1998) A Three Year Follow-Up of Attachment and Indiscriminate Friendliness in Children Adopted from Romanian Orphanages. Child Development; 69(4): 1092-1106.