by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities
Feeling Respected, Important, Accepted, Included and Secure
One of children’s critical emotional needs is to feel respected. For children to feel respected, adults need to be courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil to them. As individuals, they deserve the same courtesy and consideration as others. Children learn about respect by being treated respectfully and by observing their parents and other adults treating one another with consideration.
When adults don’t treat children with respect, it can lower children’s self-esteem and cause them to rebel and act disrespectfully toward others.
Their parents’ opinions, values, attitudes and actions matter to children. Children have some of the same needs as adults, and what we say and how we say it affects them.
For example saying, “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t have time right now,” is as quick and easy as saying, “Can’t you see I’m busy? Stop bothering me!” With children, a simple act of courtesy can go a long way.
If we want our children to grow up feeling respected and treating others with respect, we need to do the following:
- avoid being sarcastic, belittling children or yelling at them. We need to keep our anger and impatience to a minimum;
- avoid lying;
- listen more and talk less;
- give fewer commands and more suggestions and requests;
- say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ to our children;
- become conscious of our mistakes, be willing to admit them and be ready to correct our behavior.
Displaying these behaviors as parents will help us cultivate our values in our children.
In the next blog article in this series, Dr. Newmark will discuss children’s need to feel important. Until then, consider the following.
When you were a child, did adults constantly interrupt you before you could finish your thoughts?
If your toddler is feeding herself and getting food on her bib and clothes, do you grab the spoon and yell, “Stop that. You’re making a big mess. Here, I’ll feed you,” or do you put your arm around her and say, “Isn’t that great? You’re trying to feed yourself.”
Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs, which are to feel respected, important, accepted, included and secure, will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.
Click here to read the introductory post in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too!”