How to instantly strengthen your bond with your teen

It’s time for kids to head back to school and uni, but more than half of British fathers admit they no longer give hugs goodbye. Here’s why we should never stop hugging.

There’s nothing quite like giving your loved ones a big squeeze to show how much you love them – especially now the summer holidays are over so you’ll be seeing a lot less of them.

But once kids hit their teenage years they find it really awkward to get a cuddle from their parents – so you have to stop, right?

Actually, as research by Fairy Non Bio has discovered, it’s not necessarily the teens this is coming from. It’s as much down to parents just assuming it will make their kids uncomfortable.

But you need to be careful because, once the hugs stop, the emotional closeness that comes with it starts to dissipate, and before you know if you will have a distant relationship with your child.

Lost that hugging feeling?

The research by Fairy Non Bio discovered that one in five British dads stop hugging their children completely once they reach the age of 10. The main reason they gave was because they felt their children were too old, while some thought it made their kids feel uncomfortable.

Supersavvyme member Asparklingdarkness worried when her 13-year-old said he was “almost too old” to join in the family’s “Sunday snuggles” in bed, with mum, dad and his 11-year-old brother – plus the cat and dog! But when they asked him when he would be too old, he replied, “Maybe when I’m 40”. So there you go – you could have another 30 years of hugs yet!

Get-closer tip

If your kid’s too busy hugging their tablet to hug you, see our article on how to Unplug your kids from the computer.

Why are hugs so important?

Psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Simon Thompson recognises that changes through puberty and teenage years can affect the relationship between parents and their children, but urges us to keep on hugging.

“Hugs impact on us in many ways,” he said. “At the physical level, they provide us with tactile comfort, softness and closeness. At the hormonal level, the body’s natural chemicals are released for our emotional wellbeing and to protect us from harm.”

When our older children move away to university, it’s even more important to keep that bond, which member angela0703 knows well.

“I love it when my eldest son comes home from university and he gives me the biggest ever hug [and] holds me so tight… Then I get his dirty washing bag.”

Well, you win some you lose some, Angela. Perhaps pack some Fairy Non Bio in his bag when he leaves again so there are no excuses!

Get closer tip:

If your child doesn’t hug because they are isolating themselves and they have become withdrawn, there could be something wrong. Read our article on How to spot an unhappy child.

Better to give and receive

Research also shows that it’s not just the receivers of hugs that benefit – hug givers also felt “happy, connected, warm and loved”.

Member MagdaAmbr agrees: “I love hugging my son! He likes it as well. I hope I will never stop hugging him. It is the best feeling EVER!”

We agree – here’s to hugging!

Get-closer tip

Quality time is another great way to strengthen the bond with your child. For tips on what to do with your mother-daughter moments, read our article on Spending quality time with your daughter.

4 great reasons we should never stop hugging

1. Hugging, when positively received, reinforces our strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, closeness and softness towards our children.
2. Hugging can be infectious. It is similar to seeing another person smile. It makes you want to smile or hug too and be a part of the experience.
3. Hugging can often break down the boundaries between parents and children and help re-establish a strong connection. Sometimes it may take a few encounters before a child wishes to be hugged again by the parent.
4. Hugging increases levels of the "love hormone" oxytocin – which has health-giving properties and triggers the maternal instinct.

How often do you hug your child? Do you think cuddles are important? Let us know in the comments section below.