emotional needs of a child

7 Emotional Needs of a Child

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Not again. We were late to a birthday party and my 4-year-old son was throwing a tantrum. I gathered him up off the floor and put him in the car, kicking and screaming. My mind raced. “This is gonna be fun,” I thought. “Why does he always do this when we have to be somewhere?” The answer was simple. I hadn’t told him in advance what we’d be doing. I got him dressed and then dropped the plan on him. He had no warning or time to emotionally prepare to go to a party. I realized I probably would throw a tantrum too—or would at least want to—if somebody did that to me. From then on, we started to tell him the plans for each day every morning and it made all the difference.

When we meet the emotional needs of a child, it gives him or her greater peace and contentment. Meeting some of these needs comes easy to us while meeting others takes intentional thought and investment. Here are 7 emotional needs of a child.

1. Love

It may seem obvious to you that kids need love, and you would be correct. Just make sure you’re showing and communicating unconditional love. Be careful that your compliments and affirmations aren’t centered around their achievements. By all means, compliment your kids’ achievements, but affirm your love for them because of who they are and not what they do. You love them because they are your kids, and they are wonderfully made.

The first and most natural place to show kids they belong is with their families.

2. Belonging

Kids need to know they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They need to know they belong. The first and most natural place to show kids they belong is with their families. Lay out your family history for them and tell them what they are a part of. Perhaps you don’t have a good family history. Explain to them the new direction your family is taking and how important they are to that vision.

3. Security

Every time I got frustrated with my kids when they were little, my mom would remind me that “they just got here.” They’re new to this life and that can be disorienting and scary. We need to provide a stable and secure environment for them. That starts by being consistent and predictably faithful. Be clear with boundaries and follow through on them.

4. Forgiveness

When kids mess up, they need to know and experience forgiveness. Otherwise, they will live in the shame of their failures. Discipline your kids when they do wrong and give appropriate consequences. But many parents miss this really important step. Extend and communicate forgiveness. This gives them the closure they need and allows them to move on in fullness.

5. Physical Affection

This is part of giving them security and showing them love. At our All Pro Dad Experiences, we have dads hug their kids for one minute. And they aren’t allowed to do the Top Gun hug, which is really just a pat on the back. They actually have to hold their kids. It always amazes me how content the kids’ faces become as they sink into their dads’ arms.

6. Joy

If you are like me, you focus a lot on discipline, cleanliness, good behavior, and order. I often resemble a drill sergeant. But our kids need to experience laughter, joy, and fun times with you. Make sure you create memories with them. Get down on the floor and play. Be known for making them laugh as much as for being their authority.

7. Power

Yes, you are their authority and they need to obey. But they also need to be empowered. Simply ordering them to do everything will stress them out and cause them to rebel. Look for opportunities to give them choices. They need to learn their power and how best to use it.

Sound off: What are some other possible emotional needs of a child?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When you are sad, what makes you feel better?”