Parental Affection Promotes Emotional Intelligence and Success
We all know the value of praise and a warm hug, yet in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to ignore opportunities to express love and connection with our children. At the end of a long day, parents need time to themselves making it challenging to create moments of warmth with children. Yet, that tender hug, acknowledgement of a deed done well or really “tuning in” to your children can allay all the stress of their day and give you both a boost in oxytocin, that wonderful feel-good hormone we release when we feel loved. Your job as a parent is to make your child feel unconditionally loved. Unfortunately, not all children feel unconditionally loved, that no matter what they do, their parents will still love them. Many children have the mindset that their parents will love them IF they do well in school or IF they act a certain way.
From infancy on, children need daily love, encouragement, praise and acknowledgement to thrive in terms of cognitive, academic, and social development. Studies show that children who experience daily affection from their parents have greater confidence levels and perform better in and out of the classroom. Just as important, how well parents communicate and show affection has a direct correlation on how well children successfully relate and empathize with others. I’m talking about treating your child with empathy to help him become an adult who naturally connects well with others and shows high levels of emotional intelligence, a quality that is just as important as academic intelligence in terms of long-term success professionally and socially. A parent’s modeled behavior is the single greatest influence on how their child will behave. How parents interact with each other and others is a critical example.
Praise your kids 80% of the time, discipline them 20% of the time. Catching them doing something right will have a major impact on what they consider important behavior. If you praise your child 100% of the time, it creates a monster with no boundaries. If you discipline your child 80% of the time and only give praise 20%, it hurts self-esteem and self-confidence. Not every child fits the 80/20 model, some may be 70/30, some may be 60/40; the key thing to remember is that praise should always outweigh the criticism.
Even if you were not raised in a family that put a high value on consistent praise and affection, bringing those qualities into your family has far-reaching benefits. While there may be a drop-off in daily hugs once kids hit puberty, it’s important to maintain healthy, age-appropriate physical contact on a daily basis. Verbal praise and a pat on the back might temporarily replace a hug and “I love you” when kids shun affection at times. Remember to catch your child doing something right every day and acknowledge his/her essence, effort and successes regularly. By reinforcing that praise each day with a hug, you’ll see a child who grows with confidence, security and decreased stress.
- Catch your child doing something right every day. When you have to discipline your child, catch him/her doing something right immediately after. That comparison in the moment is huge. Kids should not be in the doghouse because parents remain in a bad mood or pissed off following the discipline. Deal with the discipline and move on to positive things.
- A daily hug and tender touch can help improve your child’s emotional intelligence and reduce stress in both the parent and child. Your job as a parent is to create an atmosphere of unconditional love.
- Encouraging words can help increase motivation and self-confidence in children, which contributes to more self-direction and healthy risk taking.