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  • Writer's pictureMandy Middleton

5 Basic Things Every Child Needs

Have you ever known your child or teen has a need but you aren’t sure what it is? And they aren’t either!

As parents, we have all been there. And it can leave us feeling like we have failed, worried we are missing something, stuck, and unsure what the next step is. 

It is the most frustrating and helpless feeling. 

Often when kids' behaviors increase, it is because they have an unmet need. Because of their development, children usually don’t communicate their needs with words; they demonstrate it with their behavior or actions.

Try this helpful little exercise.

  1. Think of your child that is struggling right now. The one you are most worried about. 

  2. Make a list of what you see and what you have noticed in them recently. The behaviors, characteristics, attitudes, changes, your concerns…anything that you have observed. 

  3. Now walk away for a while and do something else. (When you come back, you will have fresh eyes and some perspective.) 

  4. Then, reread your list. Be curious, look at it, and see what patterns you notice. Ask yourself, “what are they communicating to me?”

  5. Evaluate these 5 B.A.S.I.C. needs that all kids have. Does anything seem to stand out? What area do you think you provide well for your child? What is an area that needs some growth and development?

Boundaries-Children need limits and structure. This creates feelings of safety and security to know what is expected. Overly passive and permissive parenting is not helpful for kids. Just as overly rigid, authoritarian parenting isn’t effective. Children thrive best when they have boundaries, but they are communicated best with love and connection.

Affirmations-Our positive words and encouragement fills up our kids emotional bank account! Deposit often so when you make a withdrawal, there are reserves available. They thrive on being told the good stuff and being praised for who they are. It is often said that what you focus on you get more of. No matter how hard your child (or you) are struggling, highlight the good and celebrate those things they are doing right!

Struggles-Allowing kids to struggle and do difficult things builds confidence in themselves. If we are always rescuing them and carving the way, they only learn that they must be dependent on others. A healthy bit of struggle is good for kids and teaches them important life skills.

Imagination-They need to be creative and dream. Allow their mind to wander and wonder. Boredom is great for this!! Be careful not to over schedule your kids; they need downtime to build their imagination.

Connection-Kids crave connection and attachment to others! And this is key to healthy brain and emotional development. It is important to find time to do activities WITH them and BESIDE them. Talk and ask questions. Listen to their never-ending stories. Do hobbies and things they enjoy. Get on their level; laugh and play with them. 

A final question to consider:

🎯What is ONE action step that you can do this week to meet that need in your child? (Action steps can be a variety of things and don’t always mean we need to DO something. Often it means we need to do less of something. It might mean we need to practice slowing down, resting, letting them work it out, or being present.)

Remember, slow and steady progress is most lasting. Just do one thing this week to meet your kid where they are. 

As always, I’m cheering you on in your parenting. You’ve got this! 


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