Two Vital Needs of Children and Youth
Children and youth may constantly seek the attention of adults. Many times, adults misinterpret a child’s need for attention or become exhausted by their seemingly insatiable desire for it. But when a child seeks and receives an adult’s attention, the benefits are significant:
- Validation: Children need to feel like they are okay and that they belong. Adults can offer that with small increments of uninterrupted time.
- Social and developmental practice: Children need opportunities to practice communication, boundaries, and spatial awareness. Being with them and offering the space for them to practice increases their ability to use their skills with others.
- Love and importance: Children feel valued by and a sense of intimate connection to individuals who show them attention through conversation, listening, and engaging in activities.
Children feel safer when they feel like they can control their environments and the events in their lives; however, allowing too much control might leave children feeling unsafe and unstable. Caregivers can give small doses of control to help children learn how to make choices, use their voice, and learn to become attuned to their internal needs. Adults can decide most of the details while allowing some space for children to make decisions within them:
- Choosing dinner or a place to eat
- Selecting which activities to complete first (homework or walk dog)
- Picking activities they enjoy
- Determining their weekly schedules