When babies are born their needs are relatively simple. Food, sleep, tons of cuddles and care and they will thrive.
But as they grow and develop their needs become more complex. They become more aware of the world around them and try to make sense of where they fit into this world.
A pre-schooler needs to know that they are loved, and that they are safe. Since young children have a limited vocabulary, and very little emotional awareness and control, they often communicate that these needs aren’t being met through their actions and behaviour. Acting out, aggression, whining, tantrums, meltdowns, defiance, fear and anxiety can all be signs that our little people are not experiencing their world as a safe and loving place.
There are two simple things that we can do to create an environment that meets the emotional needs of our children.
Consistently maintained, these help your child to feel that their world is safe. This doesn’t mean that they won’t test and push those boundaries. When they do this, they are often not being defiant or “naughty”. Often, they are just checking if the boundary is still there. Some children only need to test a boundary a couple of times. Others will need to test it more than twenty times! Don’t give up! When we move boundaries, it is confusing and unsettling for our children.
A boundary looks like: we eat our meals sitting on the chair at a table every vs they can stand, sit, run around during a meal for example – inconsistent expectation inconsistently applied.
At Little Heroes we often talk about filling our children’s “love tanks” or “buckets”. When a child spends quality, one-on-one time with a parent it tells them that they are loved, that they are valued and worth time and attention. This “fills up” their emotional buckets, giving them a healthy sense of self-worth. It also gives them the emotional reserves to handle frustration and setbacks with more perseverance and resilience. No matter how busy you are, it is so important that you prioritise this time with your children.
By keeping consistent boundaries and filling up our children’s emotional buckets with time and love, we can create a world for them that is safe and loving. A world where they don’t have to act out because of frustration or anger. A world where they are happy and excited to take on any adventures or challenges that they will face as they pursue their dreams and destinies.
Let’s be the ones to make that world for them!
By Bianca Smith