Meeting children’s needs

Understanding and meeting children’s needs sometimes seems impossible.

Children make many demands on their parents. Michigan State University Extension says that the way parents respond to the children’s demands teaches children about the kind of world they live in. Children learn to trust or mistrust, feel safe or afraid and loved or unloved based on the way people, especially parents, respond to them.

When a baby cries because of a dirty diaper and mom and dad gently changes the diaper while talking to the baby, the child learns that world is safe and caring. If a baby cries because of a dirty diaper and parents ignore or yell at the child, the child comes to feel that the world is frightening and unsafe. A school-age child gets the feeling of safety when people listen to what she says and when they take an interest in what she does. Teenagers feel loved when parents discuss decisions with them and listen to their opinions.

When we as parents show care and love in meeting our children’s needs, we help our children grow up to be strong and caring people.

Understanding children’s needs and taking care of those needs can be very difficult for parents. One reason is that as parents, we are more aware of our own needs than that of our children’s. For instance, we may get upset when our child gets sick (or has to go to the bathroom) just as we are going to work or to a meeting. It is natural to feel upset at the untimely demand. We may ask, “Why does this child always do this to me?” But children don’t plan their sickness to bother us. And sometimes their needs come into conflict with our needs.

As parents we find it challenging to adjust to the needs of children. But if we learn to expect some difficulties, care about our children’s needs and plan ahead to meet those needs, we can make a very big difference in helping our children.

Children are different at different ages. A wise parent of a child who is learning independence will give the child many opportunities to make decisions. When we allow children to try things they want to do, they develop their skills and confidence.

Children often face challenges that they don’t know how to handle. Parents can help them by being patient and, when they are ready, by teaching them skills.

No two children are the same. Remember to treat each child as an individual, observe and respect their differences and help them grow.

One of the best things parents can do is to continue to learn about the ages and stages of children. Staying on top of what is typical of children at different ages will assist them in successfully meeting their needs.

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