Science Confirms the Best Way to Love Your Child

love your children

Science confirms what God established when he created us: physical touch is life-giving. {Tweet This} The best way to love your children is to touch them–hold them when they are young, hug them when they are too big to hold.

Did you know that there are major studies on the science of touch? All of them validate its importance.

The science of touch convincingly suggests that we’re wired to—we need to—connect with other people on a basic physical level. To deny that is to deprive ourselves of some of life’s greatest joys and deepest comforts. ~ Dacher Keltner, University of California, Berkeley

From inception, a baby is held in the womb and then in the arms of a mother and father. They are constantly touched. Parents instinctively want to cradle and kiss their babies. This is instinctive and also imperative for the growth and development of a baby. But what about the child who is eight, twelve or sixteen? Do they need to be held, hugged, patted, kissed?


And what about beyond 16? Is this when a child begins to replace the desire for parental affection with desired romantic affection?

I have pondered the importance of physical affection a lot lately in regard to how to love your child and how this could be an overlooked key in our family relationships. It may also be a key to why so many children are becoming sexually involved at an earlier age; perhaps it’s because they crave physical touch.

When studied empirically, it is my experience that science is a validation of how God created the world. He created us to love each other through touch from birth to death. It is vital to life and provides joy for both the receiver and giver.

Giving and receiving touch triggers a variety of physiological responses. It reduces the cardiovascular stress response—lowering heart rate, blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol—and triggers the brain’s release of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that promotes feelings of well-being, devotion and bonding. Touch is inherently reciprocal. It’s impossible to touch someone or something without being touched. And research shows that the benefits of touch are available whether on the giving or receiving end. ~  Dr. Matt Hertenstein, DePauw University 

You and I have an incredible opportunity as parents. We can instill good study habits and develop their brain. We can teach them healthy choices and develop their body. And we can train them in the Word and develop knowledge of God. But if we do all this, devoid of the connection that only touch can bring, have we missed a key ingredient to loving them well?

Perhaps we need to make more time for a little more love–physical love…hugging with joy, holding in compassion, kissing with affection–in the morning as you wake your kids, in the afternoon when you reconnect after school or work, and at night when you say goodnight. Perhaps it would do more than anything else we could do as a parent.

To touch is to give life. ~ Michelangelo

What do you think about this research?


  • Megatropolis

    When I was 11 years old I moved away from my mother and abusive stepfather to live with my father and his wife. I spent two years with them that should have been far more peaceful to me because the violence did not exist in that household. Yet after two years I chose to go back to my mother and her violent husband and the nightmares that came with that life. The reason I went back was because in the two years I spent with my father and my stepmother, no one ever touched me. There were no hugs, no kisses and zero affection. I felt alone and unloved. When I was with my mom, the household was chaotic and I constantly lived in fear of my own safety but my mother was always loving and generous with her hugs and affection. Sadly, that speaks volumes.

    • RA Laurenzo

      Wow – what a testimony! Thank you for sharing. I don’t have problem hugging my kids but for some reason find it hard to hug my own mom…I know we both would benefit from that but it doesn’t come natural. Anybody has the same issue?

    • Angel O’Brien

      Thank you for sharing… very interesting. It goes to show just how strong & important those primal needs are to us. I hope things are better for you now, and that you are ok.