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Are You Meeting ALL Your Child's Basic Needs?

By Frank McGinty

This may come as a surprise, but many parents are unaware of

the full extent of their child's basic needs.

Do you remember the old song by Lennon and McCartney about

the girl leaving home after 'living alone for so many

years'? The parents were desolate. They'd given her

everything money could buy - so how could she possibly have

been lonely and unhappy?

Clearly, there were some needs that just weren't being met

at home, so the girl upped and left.

What are these basic needs we must be aware of if we're to

be effective parents?

There are four categories: physical, emotional, intellectual

and spiritual.

So often people overestimate the first category, physical

needs - but let's not underestimate them either! We all need

food and drink, warmth, clothing and shelter to protect us

from the elements.

These will sustain life, but by themselves they won't

promote positive relationships. Some parents, however,

shower their kids with material things in order to over-

compensate for the other areas.

And we all know that, despite their wealth, many of these

same kids are miserable. Their other needs are just not

being met.

Probably the most obvious of these other needs is emotional

in nature.

Love and affection are vital, but there's more to it.

Children need constant reassurance! When our personalities

are forming we are on the lookout for feedback, so that we

know what to accept and what to reject.

We also form our picture of ourselves from the feedback we

get from others, especially those who have 'significant'

roles in our lives: parents first, then siblings, relatives,

teachers, friends and so on.

A child doesn't really know what to make of himself until

that feedback comes in.

And they make value judgements so quickly! 'Hey, I'm

pretty good at this, everbody tells me so!'

Or how about, 'Yeah, I guess I'm a pretty stupid, useless

person. They always laugh at me. That's if they take any

notice at all!'

As a parent it's easy for you to praise the child who's

doing well, but the child who's struggling needs as much -

and possibly more - praise and encouragement. Yet so often

we overlook this.

If you take the time to listen to your kids, to take their

interests and ideas seriously - even if they seem petty,

trivial or irrelevant - then you are investing heavily in

your children's emotional well-being.

Although many parents are becoming aware of the emotional

needs of children, some are a bit hazy when it comes to

their intellectual needs.

There's still a perception that those kids who do well at

school just happen to be the 'brainy' ones.

Yet a wide body of research suggests that school or

'academic' success will be determined by a child's positive

self-image AND by the stimulation and interaction the child

receives at home.

These affect the thought-processes of the child, and the

thought-processes (HOW the child thinks) are the tools used

in learning.

Kids who perform well at school consistently come from homes

where there's a lot of mental stimulation through play, a

variety of experiences, and interaction through discussion

and conversation.

Finally, if intellectual needs are hazy, there appears to be

downright confusion over spiritual needs.

That children have spiritual needs comes as a shock to some

parents, and others hotly dispute this need. This seems to

be because most people associate spiritual needs with

religion, but they are not necessarily related to religious


It's generally accepted in modern educational and clinical

psychology that we all have spiritual needs.

It's helpful to make your kids aware that there are greater

forces and powers at work in nature and in the universe, and

that our lives work best when we are in harmony with these.

You can meet your kids' spiritual needs by participating in

your religion, but also by fostering a sense of awe and

wonder about the grandeur of the world.

Teach your children to respect nature and the life force

that permeates it.

On to this can be built an appreciation of the diversity and

variety of human lives and customs.

As a result your kids will grow up with a value system,

which when followed will lead to contentment and happiness.

A well-rounded individual, then, is one who's needs are met

in all the above categories: physical, emotional,

intellectual and spiritual.

Take action now to meet ALL your kid's basic needs. It's

never too late, but obviously the earlier you start, the

better. Your kids will be well-balanced and happy.

And you? Well, you'll be taking pride and pleasure in a job

well done.

Happy parenting!

About The Author
Frank McGinty

Worried about your family? Frank McGinty is an internationally published author and teacher. To further develop your parenting confidence and encourage your kids to be all they can be, go to:

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