This week, I’m having our favorite school psychologist share with you some basic “building blocks” to provide a strong foundation for your children in Five Things All Children Need.
Dr. Valerie Allen
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Certified Case Manager
Five Things All Children Need
As children develop, they learn about emotions, attitudes, values, and interpersonal skills. They acquire these attributes when their needs are met by significant people in their lives. Children follow good examples and they learn from bad examples. They begin to understand the part their behavior plays in the things that happen to them – actions and outcomes. To create a good emotional balance, youngsters need to develop these skills:
- Survival: These are physiological needs, basic to sustaining life: food, clothing, and shelter. Related needs include: warmth, exercise, rest, and good health. Typically, these needs are met in day-to-day routines of child rearing. As an infant, you bath and feed your child. You take him or her for medical check ups. As children mature, you help them become independent, teaching them to do things on their own, such as, getting dressed, preparing food, dental hygiene, and so on. You help the infant survive and you teach the growing child self-help skills for his own survival. As a teenage and young adult, he or she will earn money and learn how to use it for basic survival needs.
- Safety: Children need to feel safe and secure; they need protection within their environment. Children need to be safe from hazardous conditions and dangerous situations. They need to know those in charge will not harm them and won’t allow them to be harmed by others. They need to know what is expected of them and how to live confidently in society to avoid conflict and encourage harmony. They need to be able to depend on those in charge to have order, routines, and predictability.
- Emotional: Children have a need to feel loved and accepted. They need “unconditional regard,” that is, love with no strings attached. They need to have a unique place within the family unit. They also need to “belong” within social groups, such as a class or a team. They need to share membership with a larger group and be able to fit in. This encourages sharing and mutual support and the concept of team spirit, surrendering our own needs to meet the needs of the group or team. This need is met when children participate in sports, music, scouts, church, or hobby groups. They learn how to initiate and maintain friendships on different levels with different people. They need to feel comfortable and accepted when joining and participating in group activities.
- Self Esteem: Children need to feel good about themselves. They need to believe they are liked and accepted by others. They need to develop a positive world view with the expectation they will do well and be successful. Children meet this need by their accomplishments and the encouragement of others. They earn respect, gain appreciation, and receive positive attention, when they engage in appropriate social behaviors. They need to feel confident, with a realistic understanding of their strengths and talents.
- Efficacy: Children need to do the best they can, to meet their full potential. They need to be capable and productive, always striving to learn and do new things. This involves curiosity, self-expression, taking risks, and facing failure. Children need to understand that making an effort to do something is worthy, regardless of the outcome. They need to see change as an opportunity for growth.
All children need to acquire, use, and understand these basic skills to develop a feeling of control in their lives and maximize their potential.
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She presents seminars for parents and professionals in the field of child development and has published two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!