10 Emotional Needs of Our Children

children at play

Feelings and emotions are not logical, and they're not meant to be. Children’s feelings make sense when you understand how they view a situation, or the larger world. It is very important that their emotions be validated by observing them and telling the child what you see, without making judgments such as, "That is ridiculous."

For example, if a child is angry, validation would be, “I can see that you’re angry.” If necessary you might add, “But yelling at me is not OK, just talk to me.” If a child is sad you can comment, “You look sad to me.” Not only does this keep communication open, but it also teaches the child what emotions and feelings are.

10 Emotional Must-Haves for Kids

  1. ACCEPTANCE. Although we must discipline our children, they need to know that their mistakes are not marks against them. Discipline is a guide or a correction--and at its most effective state, it is also a fresh start.
  2. APPRECIATION. Sincere appreciation lets kids know their life has meaning for others. It helps them develop confidence and a feeling of purpose. Children’s achievements should be appreciated, as should qualities like politeness, kindness, initiative, and sharing.
  3. ENCOURAGEMENT. Children thrive when those they care about are their cheerleaders. Rooting for them on the sidelines is proof that you believe in their abilities and support their growing independence (even if it scares you).
  4. RESPECT. All human beings do better when treated with respect and allowed their dignity, including children. When kids are shown respect by people close to them, they naturally learn to give others the same.
  5. AFFECTION. More than words, touch expresses affection. It conveys love and support more eloquently than anything else. Hugs are good, but just a soft pat on the shoulder will do.
  6. SECURITY. Developing a routine, knowing what is expected of them, and having limits that are kept help children feel safe. Observing that their caregivers communicate and respect one another lets children believe their family unit, whatever that may be, can withstand choppy waters.
  7. APPROVAL. Let kids feel valued by noticing the good things they do with simple comments that reveal how you feel, such as, “Thanks, that was a big help,” or, “You picked up your room without being asked, you just made my day!”
  8. COMFORT. Children fare best when there is always comfort available to soothe fears, hurt feelings, anger, sadness, and (of course) skinned knees. Sometimes children simply need someone to listen to them, allow them to feel what they feel, and maybe to talk about ways to reduce the child’s upset.
  9. ATTENTION. If you think back far enough, you might remember that kids know when grownups are giving them lip-service. To give valuable attention, children need to see they have engaged your interest.
  10. SUPPORT. Children are more comfortable exploring and growing when they know adults who will jog the extra mile to help them achieve success. It gives them courage to meet age-appropriate challenges when there is adult muscle behind them.
  11. What you don't realize as a kid is that if your parents are always going to be there for you, they aren't going to be somewhere else doing exciting and glamorous things. --Robert Brault


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