The seven emotional needs of children

Children develop a healthy capacity to trust and a healthy self esteem when the yearning of their souls is satisfied. Here are some ways we can satisfy those yearnings.

Protection:  A home where children find it very comfortable to run into the arms of their mom and dad at any moment to find love and protection is one where trust flourishes. Children need a safe and well-protected place to grow up, a place devoid of emotional and physical threat, and a place where warmth and nourishment are provided.  Children feel safe in an environment where the relationship they depend on is stable and predictable. In order for the children to feel safe, parents need to work hard at resolving any differences that they might have peacefully.

Acceptance:  Children crave acceptance. They crave it from their friends, teachers and most especially from their parents. They need to know that they are worthy of your love irrespective of their natural limitations, physical imperfections and poor performance. Absence of acceptance can negatively affect a child’s self image. Our response to our children’s need is the primary source of their self-perception. It is important for parents to recognize and appreciate their children’s unique gifts and interests while avoiding negative comparisons with others.

Recognition: Children who come from homes with high expectation and low affirmation often grow up with a nagging sense of inadequacy. If they cannot win their parents approval, they feel that they are not good enough or deficient. They may eventually become people pleasers or seek to prove themselves through their careers or ministry performance. Parents are encouraged to have phrases like “I’m proud of you” or “Good job”, “I respect you,” in their vocabulary when speaking to their children.

Enforced Limits:  Children feel insecure when there are no rules and limits placed on them. Behavioral problems are avenues that children use to ask for help. A child who feels anxious may act out because he needs someone to bring structure and safety into his life. We need to clearly communicate to our children when enforcing these limits some children fail to meet the expectations placed on them because they don’t know what our limits are.

Affection: Children need affection so badly that they can starve without it.  A study conducted by psychologist Tiffany Field (U.S News & World Report) confirms that “Premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47% faster than preemies given standard intensive care nursery treatment: as little touching as possible. The preemies who were massaged weren’t eating more: they just processed food more efficiently. Massaged preemies were more alert and aware of their surroundings when awake, while their sleep was deeper and more restorative. Eight months later, the massaged infants scored better on mental and motor tests”. Hugging, holding and cuddling your children deposit within them memories of comfort and security that are carried throughout their lives.

Time:  Children who don’t feel like they are the centre of their parent’s attention and the main priority in their life often struggle over time with the feelings of abandonment and rejection. Children need quality time with their parents. Good relationships require focused attention Parents need to be available to their kids and spend special time focusing on their interests and concerns.

Support: If our children are to ascend to their callings in life, they will need the freedom to fall- but not too far. They need guidance, protection and encouragement to step out. They need us to hold their hands as we let them go.

Written by Dr. Godwin & Blessing Ude

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