When it comes to raising children, there are things that we need to understand in order for us to be more effective, and ultimately, loving parents. Family law can only teach us so much about boundaries, parameters, and rights but when it comes to our children’s emotional well-being, it’s more complicated.
The Need for Respect
Children, as young as they are, want to feel respected by grown-ups. They want to feel that they are treated courteously, thoughtfully, attentively, and civilly.
As parents, we teach our children to respect people, especially adults. However, more than just teaching them about it, we also need to model it in our lives. Whatever it is that we do in their eyes becomes the right thing for them. We are the moral and behavioral standards that they use to measure themselves against.
For children to learn the value of respect, we need to show them how to behave respectfully, too. That being said, we should do our best to avoid sarcasm, yelling, belittling, and lying. We also need to observe proper manners when we interact with them. Say please and thank you. Apologize to them, own up to your mistakes, and do what you need to do to rectify the situation.
If we show them that we treat others with respect, if they feel that the way we respect them is the same way we show adults respect, then they will learn to incorporate this value into their system and grow up with it.
The Need for Importance
Have you ever wondered why children are eager to push the elevator button or hold on to the dog’s leash even if they’re just half the size of your Lab? That’s because they want to show you that they are useful, valuable, capable, and powerful.
Children don’t like to feel inferior. That is why at such an early age, the need for importance is very evident. As soon as they’re able to do things on their own, they will insist you let them. This is their way of saying that “I can do this on my own now just like you. I am as important as you are.” This is not to compare themselves to you. This is just their way of saying that they need you to acknowledge that they are just as valuable and important as the other adults in your life.
As parents, we need to learn how to let go of some things and let them do and experience things on their own. We need to allow them room to explore, develop, and grow giving them enough elbow room for mistakes. This will show them that we trust them and are confident in them which reinforces positive behavior and mindset in them.
The Need for Acceptance
At an early age, you will notice that children already show telltale signs of whether they’re insecure or doubtful of themselves. This stems from a need to feel accepted and included.
They want you to see them and their individual strengths and uniqueness. They don’t need the burden of trying to live under your shadow. Allow them to express themselves and their individuality — their strengths, weaknesses, talents, skills, opinions, ideas, preferences, and more.
Do not belittle or ignore what they have to say. If you do this, they experience a traumatic rejection that could scar them for life and adversely affect your relationship with them, Accept them for who they are, not just what you want them to be. If you and your children have similarities, great. But you also should celebrate your differences. This shows them that you value them as people and love their uniqueness.
The Need for Security
Security is not just a need for children; it is their right. As parents, more than just providing for them financially and materially, we also need to provide them with a safe and secure environment that will assure them that they are cared for and treated with respect. They need to feel that they can freely express themselves without being judged nor frowned upon. They need to feel that you can agree to disagree and still love each other unconditionally.
The bottom line is children need to be fed emotionally. It is our duty as parents to provide for all of their needs, even emotionally. In a world where mental health is getting to be a pressing concern, we need to go out on a limb to make sure our children grow up not just physically healthy but emotionally well, too.