Cuddles and hugs – we all need them, they make us feel good, help to calm us down, reassure us, helps our personal, social and emotional development and stimulates the best mental state for brain development. Then why is it still a controversial issue over whether practitioners and teachers should cuddle children?
Having a key person for the child to form a close attachment has been a proven and well-documented approach that provides support at nursery. Children need positive relationships with key adults to compliment family bonds and to provide a secure base from which they can learn, develop and grow. Without this they simply would not thrive.
What happens when we get a cuddle?
Cuddling provides physical contact which in turn helps to stimulate the release of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin. When oxytocin enters the bloodstream it improves our mood, increases our ability to deal with pain, reduces the presence of the stress hormones (cortisol), reduces blood pressure, and some believe can help the body to heal more quickly. These connections, made when we receive cuddles, also help to aid early memory retention.
Why some might worry
Cuddling children is an essential part of having a key person relationship, but there is a balance which needs to be respected and observed. We are all too aware of the dangers that face children at the hands of abusive adults, and the media seems to constantly bring to our attention cases of misused trust.
At Tops Day Nurseries we have stringent measures in place to ensure our children’s safety, including risk assessments on lone working, safer recruitment enhanced checking, and rigorous policies and procedures on safeguarding, mobile phones, ICT and whistleblowing are in place. We feel that not giving children cuddles when they need it would be to fail them.
Children are physical beings. They understand the world through their senses and one of the strongest is that of touch. Cuddling at the right moments in response to the child’s needs helps the child to express affection and trust others by understanding this is a safe place where they can relax.
Here at Tops we feel that cuddles are an important part of the care provided for all our children and from the reactions of the children, they love cuddles too.