As if you needed more reasons to shower hugs and cuddles on your little ones, science has now suggested that it could help them develop better social skills.
In other words, the more tactile the relationship, the more development in the ‘social brain’
That’s right, more cuddles are scientifically needed!
New research carried out by scientists from Germany and Singapore, suggests that children who have a more tactile relationship with parents, will eventually become more social people.
How do they know? Well, the researchers began by observing a group of five-year-olds and their mothers as they played with farm toys together. They noted how many times the mothers touched their children, and vice versa. Then, two days later, the researchers scanned the brains of the children while they rested.
They found that activity in the ‘social brain’ – the areas of the brain that allow us to interact with others well – was stronger for the children who had experienced more physical contact with their mothers.
In other words, the more tactile the relationship, the more development in the ‘social brain’.
“There is already a substantial literature looking at the positive effects of touch in infants,” says one of the researchers. “Our work adds by showing a relation specifically to the social brain… and extending this to an older age group, suggesting that benefits exist beyond infancy.”
Though the team also notes that there are plenty of other factors involved in building social skills too, a tactile relationship, they say, is a big factor.
The findings also support the theory that touching your child’s back may increase these benefits even further. Why? It’s all about nerve fibre ‘hotspots’.
According to scientists, the back is one of these hotspots, where we have lots of nerve fibres called ‘c-tactile afferents’. These special kinds of fibres respond to gentle touch, triggering the release of positive hormones which boost feelings such as happiness, comfort and confidence.
So there you have it. More hugs and backrubs for everyone!