by Dr. Gerald Newmark
The Children’s Project
Developing Emotionally Healthy Children, Families, Schools and Communities
Feeling Important, Respected, Accepted, Included and Secure
Children need to feel important, which means they need to feel that they have value, they are useful, they have power and they are somebody special. The following are examples of how parents can help develop or diminish a child’s sense of importance.
Being Overprotective – Parents may diminish children’s sense of power by limiting them too much. Children need to experiment and try new things. We need to encourage their curiosity, experimentation and desire for adventure instead of saying no too often.
Being Excessively Permissive – However, if you never or rarely say no or if you try to satisfy all of your children’s desires, they could develop a false sense of entitlement and unrealistic expectations, which will hurt them in the future as they discover the realities of life. Distinguish between wants and needs. When you say no to something a child wants, you should still honor the five critical needs.
Talking Too Much and Not Listening – We talk, we lecture, we give advice, we tell children how to feel and what to think and we overpower them with words when we should listen and pay more attention to what they say, think and feel. Give your children your undivided attention, even when you only have a few minutes.
Making All the Decisions – When parents make all the decisions and solve all their children’s problems, children miss an opportunity to increase their self-confidence and develop good judgment and decision-making skills. Asking their opinions and listening to their answers contributes to their sense of importance. Let your children make small, age-appropriate decisions, such as what to wear, what vegetable to eat with dinner, what board game to play and what color collar the family pet should wear, etc.
If we provide constructive, meaningful ways to make children feel important, they will not need to engage in inappropriate destructive activities to convince themselves and others that they are important.
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!”
Click here to read article one in this series, “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Respect.”