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February 08, 2012

Because you hugged them

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

Want to invest in your child’s future? Put away your wallet (for this one) – and give your child a hug.

A new study by child psychologists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine examined the brains of school-aged children and found the kids whose mothers nurtured them early in life have a larger hippocampus than kids who weren't as nurtured by their parents. In case you missed our series on the inner workings of your child’s brain, the hippocampus is integral to your child’s memory, learning, and stress response. According to the study, this portion of the brain is substantially larger – up to 10 percent larger, in fact – in nurtured kids.

Don’t let the warm and fuzzy results of this study detract from its groundbreaking findings: until now, there wasn’t any scientific proof that parental love could change brain anatomy. But it can. And in the area of the brain that assists in learning.

While the research specifically looked at moms’ nurturing (which includes hugs), the scientists noted that the positive benefits from hugs and other nurturing behavior are likely to be the same with any primary caregiver, including dads and grandparents.

So what are you waiting for? Go hug it out! Hugs only take a moment, they’re easy and fun. And the payoff is priceless, but not immeasurable. And it may be the biggest brain boost you’ll give your child all day.


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This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom

I really wish I hadn’t seen this as I really want one now!

This is like one of those studies that proves what is so obvious - that if you nurture your child you will have a more successful child.

Duh...ya think?

Yet despite these studies, child abuse, physical punishment and neglect are still rampant.

Why? Population density explains a lot of it. The more crowded a home, or a community, the more we neglect, abuse, and misuse our children. Calhoun did this study on "Population density and social pathology" back in 1970; an elegantly simple experiment that proved the more crowded we get, the crazier we get, especially toward our children. We need to read it - again. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501789/

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