By: Lauren O’Brien

The holidays can mean lots and lots of affection. Maybe you’re not looking forward to Great Aunt Jan’s inevitable kiss on the lips, but did you know that giving your kiddos daily physical affection can significantly help their early childhood development?

Research shows that it’s not only important that children KNOW they are loved but to also FEEL that they are loved.  The saying “actions speak louder than words” is quite applicable when it comes to child rearing! Physical affection communicates a message of safety and trust. When your child feels that safety, they are more open to explore the world around them and try new things.

But, other than smothering your children in kisses and hugs, what are other physical ways to show them you love them? And, maybe you need some ideas on how to mix it up. Well, that’s what we’re here for!

Here are five ways to incorporate more love and affection into your home:

  • Mix it up: There are SO many ways to show affection: Winks, high fives, rubbing noses, back rubs, piggy-back-rides, dancing…even rough housing counts!  
  • Surprise them: A surprise hug can make your kiddo feel extra special. Maybe they made you laugh or did something extra sweet for their sibling. Sometimes those random gestures can be more meaningful than the routine kisses goodbye.
  • Remind yourself: Let’s face it, life is busy! And, when we’re busy, the moment can sweep right passed us. So, it’s OK to set a reminder on your phone to help remember to show a little spontaneous affection!
  • Hug even when they mess up: You might be angry that they just hit their sibling, but if you show affection while disciplining, it actually helps them listen to what you’re saying. And, sometimes when they’re feeling bad about being yelled at, a little hug communicates that you still love them even though they made a mistake.
  • Play games: Playing games like Red Rover and Tag brings the family together in a fun, physical way.

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