All children have certain basic needs. The more of these needs that go unmet, and the greater extent to which they are absent, the more likely the child is to experience trauma as a result.
I provide a list of these basic needs below :
1) BASIC CARE –
This refers to the child’s essential PHYSICAL needs. These include adequate food and drink, adequate living conditions, adequate clothing and the provision of appropriate medical and dental care.
2) SAFETY –
The child should be protected from significant harm and danger, both PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL
3) SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION / EDUCATION.-
The child should be given proper learning opportunities / education to ensure appropriate COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT as well as opportunities to develop SOCIALLY through interaction with others, play, having his/her questions responded to and other appropriate verbal communication
4) STABILITY –
Stability within the family is vital and helps to ensure that the child forms SECURE ATTACHMENTS with the PRIMARY CAREGIVERS; part of ensuring stability is to make sure that the child is treated as CONSISTENTLY as possible (inconsistent discipline, for example, can have a very damaging effect upon the child).
Also, it is very important, wherever possible, that the child remains in contact with those who are of significant importance to the child’s emotional welfare.
5) EMOTIONAL WARMTH / LOVE –
It is extremely important that the child is very much encouraged to take a positive view of him/herself, to view him/herself as a person of worth, and to develop a good level of self–esteem.
In relation to this, the child’s needs require being responded to in a sensitive manner, including the needs for affection, being comforted in times of distress, being praised, and being encouraged with his/her personal endeavors
6) BOUNDARIES –
The child needs to be set helpful boundaries which will allow him/her to build up an internal mental model of socially acceptable behavior, thus helping the child to integrate him/herself successfully into wider society.
7) STRUCTURE AND CONSISTENCY –
these provide the child with boundaries/limits and also make it easier for the child to predict how parents will react to what they say and do. This, in turn, helps the child to learn how to behave. Consistency also helps to make the child feel safe and secure as his/her environment becomes predictable. Lack of consistency is confusing for the child and can cause attachment difficulties, anxiety, and hostility (the ‘fight’ response to stress’ or passivity. the ‘flight’ response to stress.
8) EMOTIONAL SUPPORT –
The child needs:
- to feel valued
- to feel ‘heard’ and understood
- to feel safe
- to feel supported
- to feel unconditionally loved and wanted
- to feel cared about
- to feel trusted
- to be given appropriate freedom and control over his/her own life
- to be given appropriate freedom
- to be forgiven
- to feel accepted for who s/he is
Children who suffer emotional neglect and who feel unloved and unwanted are liable to develop a range of psychiatric and behavioral problems including hostility, aggression, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, addictions, and running away from home.
9) POSITIVE ROLE MODELS
Children learn by observing others and will copy what their parents and influential others do. It is important that such role models shape the child’s behaviour positively at home, school and in wider society.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).