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I consider myself blessed to be a teacher. At the same time, I also feel dejected when I know what my children need and I cannot provide them with those. I feel utterly helpless then. It is said that children are sometimes savage like because the notions of civilization cannot be understood by them. This is shown in their behaviour which sometimes disappoints parents like us. Certain behavioural patterns may be the result of not satiating some of the child's needs. Not essentially though. We all know that children need to eat nutritious food, play, sleep, be happy, be safe, love and be loved. The physical needs are most of the times are taken care of. Alas, what we often miss is their emotional needs. Out of all that a child needs, I would like to focus on a few which is extremely essential for proper growth of a child but may be ignored or perhaps we don't find time for them.
1. The need to touch: Every child needs to be touched (in the right way). It could be a hug or a simple pat on the shoulder. I have seen most parents doing it. What actually brings me to this point is that many children at school try to touch their teachers. In their effort to belong to a place, they try to touch and that makes them feel good as well as secured. We are so much tied up with work whether it is in the office or at home that there are instances of neglecting this particular need. Watch out how many times your child tries to touch you!
2. The need to be respected: Self-esteem is our biological disposition. When children throw tantrums and we lose our patience, we put this need at stake. Even when they don't listen to us, it is likely that we might break their self-esteem. This is quite possible with authoritarian parents.(See parenting styles - http://www.the-positive-parenting-centre.com/types_of_parenting_styles.html )
3. The need to be trusted: There are wider chances of children becoming more responsible when they are trusted. Saying 'I trust you and know that you would do this' works at the conscience level. Saying, 'I know you will behave this therefore I am not going to send you out' or labeling them on a particular behaviour will convince them that it's okay to be behave in an inappropriate way because they anyway would do that.
4. The need to cry: When a child cries, we often see two extremes, one in which grandparents or spouses are upset because the child cried and either of the parents are responsible for that. I am talking about the context in which the child cries when he or she is hurt and just wants to cry. In this case, I have come across parents who command kids to stop crying whatsoever. A child holding back tears? How is that possible? Tears are supposed to mellow a heart but yes, such parents who do not allow children to vent up through tears do exist. (Have you, as a mother cried in the bathroom because there is a husband who gets angrier when he sees your tears?)
5. The need to be annoyed or angry: What makes a child angry? The reasons could be varied. Mum didn't keep a promise. Dad didn't come home on time. It could be anything. A friend has not shared her/his toy or the child is forced to share her things with a friend. Whatever the cause, it is important that the child is allowed to show off anger for some time.
6. The need to be selfish: Constantly telling the child not to be selfish can have a negative impact on their attitude later. Allowing them to be selfish and then talking to them about the consequence is the best thing. But if they are made to feel guilty about how they feel, it means we are suppressing their emotions.
8. The need to be alone: I have seen my children closing the door and sitting in the balcony for sometime. Knocking on the door several times asking what are you doing will yield no proper response. Telling them, 'I know you are angry or upset. I will be waiting for you.' helps them cope up quickly. Allowing them to be alone and understand this need will make them behave properly at different places. My daughter's friend was telling me 'Aunty, whenever R is angry, she tells me that she is angry and wants some time alone.' I am not claiming that I am successful in parenting. Parenting travails are endless. I am aware of their needs. Sometimes I do neglect but I gear up for the day.
9. The need to be involved or belong: I would like to quote an example. In a story writing competition, the topic of the story was 'Belonging'. I was supposed to make students write a story. It was difficult for me to explain what it meant because I couldn't relate to the topic. I didn't know where or whom I belonged to. Not that I am not happy. But that higher level of belonging didn't happen. I couldn't make students write. After ruminating on the topic, finally I said to myself' 'My classroom and my children'. That's where I belong. When you are involved, you feel productive; when you are productive, you know you belong to someone or something. That brings with it integrity. The same is with the child. They need to be involved. When they are not, they take refuge in gadgets. That makes them feel safe.
Parenting is a challenge. Once we take up the responsibility, we need to fulfill it. Just satiating their physical needs is not enough. Let us talk more about their emotional needs too.
(Might have missed on some crucial needs too. Please do share with me.)