A Child’s List of Social and Emotional Needs

a childs list of social and emotional needs


Adapted for parents from the work of Michelle Salcedo, M.Ed. in her book “Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior.”

All human beings- young and old have the same social-emotional needs. When parents meet these needs consistently in their children’s lives, kids grow up happy, fulfilled and better able to reach their full potential.

1. To be safe and secure. Children need to feel that they are living and learning in a safe environment and that the adults in their lives are working to keep them from physical and emotional harm. They need parents to protect their feelings and not put them in situations in which they cannot succeed.
2. To be loved and have a sense of self-worth. Children need to know that their parents think they are the center of the universe. They need to believe there is someone who will go to the end of the earth for them to show them they matter.
3. To receive attention and be understood. Children need to know that someone is paying attention to them. They need to expect that parents value what they have to say and take joy in what they do.
4. To have a sense of control and predictability. Children need to feel like they have some control in their lives. They need parents who are predictable in their behaviors and who structure the day with predictable routines and rituals.
5. To recognize and be able to handle strong feelings. Children need to know that the emotions that overwhelm them sometimes are normal. They need parents to remain calm in the face of their feelings, to help them give their feelings a name, and to provide them with safe and healthy ways to express their feelings.
6. To have a sense of power and feel independent and competent. Children need to feel powerful sometimes. They build this sense of power when given choices, when presented with tasks at which they can succeed (sometimes with a little help), and when parents notice what they do well.
7. To be engaged in stimulating pursuits. Children need to experience the world. Their brains develop when they are presented with interesting materials to see, touch, hear, smell, and taste.
8. To enjoy relationships and have a sense of belonging. Children need to know that if they were not in this world, someone would miss them. They need to feel their parents are glad they are theirs and that they can count on their parents to be there for them.

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