Meeting a child’s basic needs |

Meeting a child’s basic needs

Helen Ginandes Weiss and Martin S. Weiss

Noted Psychologist Abraham Maslow has long been considered the expert on the needs of children as they move up the steps of development. However, these needs also apply to adults and whether or not their needs have built an appropriate support system that helps them mature successfully.What kind of practical implications do these have and how can parents and teachers use this information in successful behavior management of children? So many parents have asked us how they can meet their children’s needs. Dr.Maslow insisted that one way to avoid negative behaviors is to look at some of the most significant causes of behavior. Most observers have found that Maslow’s observations have proved correct in the handling of normal childhood behaviors.Basic to a child’s growth and security is the need to survive. Any anxiety producing threats, or a fear reaction to a life-threatening situation will produce behaviors aimed solely at self-preservation. Given this basic need for survival one can understand how difficult a physical threat becomes in undermining the natural stages of development. The child who is victim of psychological or physical abuse may find it difficult to develop self-esteem. The person without self-confidence may have to work overtime to avoid the realities of life.At level No. 2, the primary needs are that of safety and security. The parent who guides a child through danger and difficulties by applying consistent limits and sets boundaries will meet this need. Put yourself in the position of a teen-ager who has been bounced from foster home to foster home, or a child whose divorced parents challenge each other’s authority and engage in criticizing each other’s parenting. This kind of child never knows what to expect, remains in a state of constant alertness and fear, a victim of the stress cycle.In a predictable, stable environment, children feel confident enough to establish their own social values, choose to live in an environment that they can control and mirror the behavior of the adults around them.Having achieved a sense of safety and security, children look for a sense of belonging. The social acceptance of their peers and the adults who they respect is essential. Teens focus upon the peer group and the need to belong to reinforce their sense of personal value. When they feel that they belong, they can master this stage, but when they find themselves ignored, embarrassed and cruelly scapegoated by their peers they suffer. Their inability to find a acceptance in their environment leads them to challenge others who have rejected them. We only have to look at tragic events like school violence and shooting to recognize that kids who feel harassed by their peers focus their anger and depression upon revenge and retaliation for what they consider non acceptance.Feeling secure readies the maturing child for the level No. 4 of development, personal achievment and success. When a child feels accepted and valued by those around him, then achieving academic and vocational success becomes a personal challenge. Students at the middle school level are often considered to be the most apathetic and difficult students, avoiding academics, challenging parental authority and ignoring personal responsibility. Studying at school is simply not considered “cool,” and if you want status among your friends, you just opt out of the school involvement scene and avoid adults at all cost.Self-actualization is the final stage that we hope our children can achieve. Do our kids set their own positive values? Can they stand up to the pressures of an outside world that challenges, tempts and taunts them? The person who has achieved self-actualization has arrived at maturity, no matter what type of education and vocation he accomplishes. We recognize this child as “most likely to succeed” despite the obstacles standing in the way of his or her success.For further information contact: Helen Ginandes Weiss M.A & Martin S. Weiss M.A., Learning Consultants, at, P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, CO. 81251, or 1-719-486-5800.

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