Can Hugs Actually Build Better Leaders?

By Neve Spicer|13-07-2021 | 1 Min Read
When we hug our kids, it doesn't just feel good, it does wonders.

When we think about the activities and behaviors that typically encourage the development of leadership skills in our children - camps, group activities, and other, more direct methods of social training are quick to come to mind. While there's certainly merit to all of the above, science demonstrates that there's a simple way to develop the foundation of emotional and cognitive strength needed to be effective leaders. That is, regular hugs.

When we hug our kids, it doesn't just feel good, it does wonders. Numerous scientific benefits have been correlated with regular embracing by people of all ages, but children are particularly poised to reap developmental boosts through expressions of physical affection.

Read More: Leading with Love as Parents

Some of the most noteworthy ways that regular hugs can bolster future leaders include:

1. Empowered Leaders:

It can be easy for our kids to feel powerless - they often are. Navigating the social landscape of childhood can be difficult, confusing and punishing and adults are usually in charge of their big decisions. A scientific assessment of 20 adolescents participating in hug therapy demonstrated that the program helped to alleviate these feelings of powerlessness.

Read more on overcoming learned helplessness and powerlessness here.

2. Resilient Leaders:

Whether it's feeling rejected by peers, having a rough time with work, or a simple head cold, resilience is required for effective leaders to put one's head down and work through tough times. Regular affection has been linked through scientific study to both an increase in emotional resilience and a reduced perception of illness severity. In other words, hugs and physical affection help build resilience and provide a comfort to say, 'It will be a-okay." Leaders are often seen to be highly-resilient in crisis situations and have the ability to navigate through crucible moments to emerge as better leaders.

3. Smart Leaders:

From the very beginning, we prioritise choosing parenting methods, play styles, and toys that will encourage optimum cognitive development. Research has demonstrated that the early cuddles and hugs associated with parent and baby bonding aren't just bringing you closer as a family, but also encouraging the healthy growth of your child's brain. One of the key aspects of great leaders not only lies in charisma but also competency and intelligence.

Read here on how hugs releases the feel-good hormones needed for better emotional regulation.

Hugging regularly isn't just good for leadership skills; it can help kids to sleep better at night, boost serotonin in couples, and can even minimize the risk of both minor and serious illnesses in people of all ages. This infographic from We The Parents covers these benefits and more.

More parenting videos from esteemed Psychologist Dr Goh!

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Tags: Parenting & Leadership

Neve is chief editor at We The Parents. She’s a firm believer in the ‘village to raise a child’ approach to parenting. For Neve, this means encouraging parents to share their stories and experiences in the hope of inspiring and bringing solace to others. As an editor she attempts to draw out personal wisdom from mothers and fathers, unearthing the learning they have reaped from all the giggles and niggles of raising a family. Neve taught for seven years in various primary schools. Having seen firsthand how policy decisions can negatively affect whole-child learning, she began to use her passion for words to publicly advocate for more ‘free’ play in schools (and at home). Her work has been featured in numerous government, educational and charity sector publications, and she continues with the goal of amplifying the needs of children and influencing policymakers across the globe.
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