Your child 1-3 years

The strength of the hug


Toddlers have basic needs: to be fed, to be clean, to be able to sleep ... But we often forget to mention the physical contact and, more particularly, the hug. Praise for his many virtues, such as the less obvious, to appease crises and anger.

  • The big hug of bedtime, the hug to have the courage to part, and the cuddle reunion ... Those, we know them well, and we do them without flinching, naturally. On other occasions, the hug is less intuitive. In the middle of the sidewalk, Martin froze, his face red and his eyes filled with tears. He starts screaming, stamping and then falls on the asphalt gesturing. Passersby turn around. His mom can not go either! But she takes a deep breath and kneels in front of her little man saying: "Do you want a hug?" Martin resists, storm again, then lets himself be wrapped by the arms of his mother who welcomes him gently and firmly. One minute, two minutes on the sidewalk, without saying anything. The breath is calm, the body relaxes. And all of a sudden, Martin stands up: that's it, it's gone!
  • Aurélia is a maternal assistant. The reassuring and reassuring power of the hug, she knows him well. One of the babies she cares for is at home twelve hours a day. At first, barely four months old, he was crying a lot. She decided to wear it in a sling: "It's like that, by this melee, that I was able to establish a bond with him." A technique that is used in some nurseries, explains the therapist Arnaud Deroo * , an education consultant, who has long coordinated the early childhood service in the city of Lambersart, in the North: "To grow up, the toddler needs hugs, to be in the arms. It's a basic need! Neuroscience has also proven that hug triggers a hormone, oxytocin, commonly known as "the hormone of happiness". This neurotransmitter promotes brain development.

Anti-crisis cell

  • But we must admit that facing an angry child, hug him is not necessarily the first idea that crosses our minds! Sometimes we will respond with our own anger. Or to address his reason: "The biscuit broke in two, but you have the same quantity!", "There are more apples, because ... there are more apples "Lost pain: in toddlers, the hemisphere of the brain where the logic sits is much less developed than the one where the feelings and emotions sit. If you look closely, an adult overwhelmed by emotion also loses its rational side!
  • By focusing on physical contact, we will more often have more success to soothe anger, sorrow, great excitement. Thus, explains Arnaud Deroo, when a child is "in a state of stress, when he experiences a difficult emotion, he needs to be physically contained". Contain ? Yes: block the arms and legs. It may seem far from the peaceful image of cuddling ... But the child is overwhelmed by a destructive motor energy and loses control of itself. He is "out of it", and this firm hug has precisely the function of bringing it back into his body envelope. You have to be ready to fight sometimes!
  • "In the anger of my daughter, says Sylvie, I read especially exhaustion or distress. Often, I think she does not understand what's happening to her! In her rage, she is able to hit me or hit me. So, I take her in my arms and I wait. It can take a long time, and it really asks me to take on me. I can not always do it. "

Reason or emotion? The body or the mind?

  • When it happens with the world around, Arnaud Deroo recommends to the parents to isolate themselves a little because, on the one hand, "in our culture, in our looks, an adult which contains a child thus, it is violent"; On the other hand, in the face of anger and exhaustion, educational reflexes are rarely the hug. Thus, when a child finally settles against the shoulder of his parent, it is not unusual for someone to exclaim: "Ah, the rascal, he understood everything! You're going to give him bad habits. "Under-the-hood:" He'll make you see all the colors, he'll lead you by the end of the nose! "These same people will describe as" whims "these tantrums or ( and) fatigue. However, there is in the term "caprice" a notion of intention, as if the child acted voluntarily. Except that the brain of toddlers is not yet fit for such strategies. So, do not pay attention to these comments: "A hug is not a reward, it's a need!" Cries Arnaud Deroo. A need of the child who, when he is satisfied, allows him to move forward with a little more assurance in life ...
  • As long as it is not the parent who imposes his cuddles ("That you're cute, come hug!"), There is no fear of giving too much: a moment side by side on the couch , curled up under a plaid to read an album, a few minutes of rocking, a small massage ... One can even wonder, at the end of the day: "Has he had his affection cash today?" you feel good: a hug recharges the batteries of everyone's heart!

* Arnaud Deroo, is the author of "Well-Processing Abecedary", Social Chronicle, 2018. "

Article excerpt from "Do you want a hug?", Supplement for the parents of Popi magazine n ° 394, June 2019. Text: Anne Bideault.