(WWTI) – Everyone needs a hug, even teddy bears, today is National Hug a Bear Day.

The 1560s verb ‘to hug’ was derived from the Old Norse term ‘hugga,’ which meant ‘to soothe’ and the phrase is also said to be related to the German word ‘hegen,’ which means ‘to cherish.’ Wherever it’s from, hugs are the best.

The ancient Egyptians are credited with the invention of soft toys; although no stuffed toys have been discovered in Egypt, drawings on monuments indicate they did have animal toys. Modern Stuffed animals were first introduced in 1830 and were created by hand, out of cloth and straw. In 1880, Germany started producing stuffed animals that were more recognizable too the ones bought today. Of course, teddy bears were made by Morris Michtom, who was inspired by a drawing of President “Teddy” Roosevelt with a bear cub and produced the first teddy bear in the United States.

Parenting for Brain has a list of benefits of hugging and why children need hugs:

  • Hugs Help Kids Grow Smarter: Physical touch such as hugging, is one of the most important stimulations required for a healthy brain and a strong body​​. In a study published in the Genetic Psychology Monographs, researchers found that infants who received hugs for an additional 20 min per day for ten weeks scored higher in developmental assessments​​.
  • Hugs Help Kids Grow: One of the reasons why hugging children is associated with physical growth is that it triggers the release of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. When oxytocin is increased, several growth hormones, such as insulin-like growth factor-I and nerve growth factor, increase as well​​. 
  • Hugs Keep Kids Healthy: The increased level of oxytocin can strengthen our immune response by lowering the plasma levels of thyroid hormones and decreasing inflammation​​, causing wounds to heal faster​​.
  • Hugs Stop Temper Tantrums: Many parents worry that hugging a tantrum-throwing child is rewarding bad behavior with attention, but it is not. Hugging a child is not the same as giving in, hugging without giving in is helping a child learn to self-regulate.
  • Hugs Build Resilience: Hugging a dysregulated child helps them regulate and also allows them to experience their emotions being regulated. This crucial early life experience is how a child learns to develop self-regulation skills and build resilience​​.
  • Hugs Make Happy Kids: Hugs enhance a person’s psychological resources: such as optimism, mastery and self-esteem. Optimism is holding favorable expectations about the future. Mastery is the belief that you can determine your own behavior, influence your environment and bring about desired outcomes. Self-esteem is an overall evaluation of self-worth.
  • Hugs Help Child and Parents Bond: Hugs increase trust​​ and Oxytocin increases one’s willingness to reduce fear, accept risk and trust others to improve relationships. It also increases a child’s attachment security, leading to secure attachment and improved parent-child bonding.

Happy National Hug a Bear Day!