There are moments where kids go through being sad, loneliness, or discouragement. So what do you do when that happens? Sometimes, a simple gesture like warming him up is the best way to make him feel loved and protected.
Researchers have found that people subconsciously associate physical warmth with emotional warmth. This link goes back to infancy, when a baby learns to connect the warmth of being held and fed by his parents with feeling safe and cared for.
“Although we have no memory of being breastfed or held in a baby carrier, the positive response to heat becomes hardwired into our brain”
– John Bargh PhD professor of psychology at Yale University
So the next time you need to reassure your child, try out one of these simple soothing methods based on the psychology of “Social Thermoregulation.”
1. Turn Up The Thermostat
A toasty temperature makes kids feel closer to the people they’re with. In one Dutch study, children aged 4 to 6 were given a bunch of colorful stickers and told that they could share some with a friend. Children who were in a warm room (70 degrees) were more willing to share their stickers than kids who were in a cool room (60 degrees).
2. Serve Soup Or Hot Chocolate
There have studies conducted in which half the participants were first asked to hold something warm, such as a cup of hot coffee, and half were asked to hold something cold instead. The participants were tested to measure how they felt about the participants and other people. In every study, the subjects who had held hot coffee were more likely to have warm feelings toward others than those who had held the cold.
“Rationally, it doesn’t make sense that drinking or holding something warm could affect our behavior, but there is a strong connection between the body and mind that plays out in all these different ways”
– Dr. Bargh
3. Keep Your Child Warm
Try snuggling with your child, wrapping him in a blanket, or even just giving him a heating pad. Anything to keep him warm. Neuroscientists have found that a part of the brain called the insula activates in response to both kinds of warmth: when a person touches a heating pad or when he texts with family and friends.
It was also found that a different specific section of the insula becomes active either when a person holds something cold, or when he’s treated coldly or betrayed by someone in a game.