If you’re the parent of a teenager, you might have noticed they aren’t as receptive to receiving mom- or dad-hugs as they were when they were younger. Gone are the days when there were hugs and kisses every night, and any hugs you get from your teen are the sideways quick variety. Or your teen may not hug you anymore at all.
But do teens NEED hugs?
Does your teen need hugs?
Recently I watched a powerful TED Talk by Dr. Paul Zac, a neuroeconomist who has done some fascinating research into the human body’s production and use of the chemical oxytocin. Normally associated with breastfeeding, oxytocin has some surprising qualities, and is produced by both men and women. (Don’t confuse Oxytocin with the often abused drug Oxycontin!)
According to Adam L. Pennenberg who volunteered to be one of Dr. Zac test subjects a couple of years back, oxycontin is the chemical responsible for human feelings of empathy, generosity, and trust. Those who grow up in abusive families produce less, those extravagantly nurtured produce more. Dr. Zac even believes that this powerful chemical is part of the reason social media connections are so powerful, and why its important to give and receive a minimum of eight hugs every single day!
One thing that guarantees release of oxytocin is touch.
Have you hugged your teenage today?
If you haven’t, now might be a good time!
Out of practice? Get back in the habit! By giving touch to your teenager, you’ll be helping them develop their bodies develop the habit of releasing oxytocin, and thereby helping them develop those all-important qualities of empathy and trust. And by giving hugs, your own body will release oxytocin too!
How often do you hug your teenager? What is their response? Even when they shy away from touch, they still desperately need it! Share your experience with re-establishing a healthy habit of touch in your family.