How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children

Feeling Respected, Important, Accepted, Included and Secure

The holidays your family chooses to celebrate offer great ways to help your children feel included which is the fourth critical emotional need of children. They need to feel they belong, to feel a part of things, to feel connected to other people, and have a sense of community. That’s why kids join cliques, gangs, clubs and teams – to satisfy that need to belong.

Families who do things together feel closer to one another. Family activities and celebrations offer ways for us to become closer and to have fun together, learn new things together and to contribute and support those around us. Identifying strongly with the family unit makes children more resistant to outside, negative influences and more open to positive role models within the family. Obviously children can’t be included in everything, but the holiday season offers us many opportunities to make a conscious effort to include our children in deciding on family activities that appeal to everyone in the family. When activities are repeated on a regular basis, they become traditions and rituals that further satisfy our children’s need to feel included and secure.

In addition to planning activities during the holiday season, we can carry this on into the New Year by including our children in our work life. Describing to them where we work, what we do, with whom we work and how we feel about our work and our co-workers. If possible, we can take them to work – and encourage them to ask questions and ask their opinion. If you work at home or have your own business, introduce them to clients and co-workers and possibly have them do some work for you and with you.

Communication is another key tool to having children feel included. Our parent-child communications are too often brief, fleeting, dull, or haphazard. Consequently, despite our best intentions, as parents we may have little understanding of what our children are thinking or feeling. Meanwhile, our children may feel misunderstood and puzzled by our actions and can be frustrated by what they feel are attempts to control and overprotect them. The challenge for us is to move from sporadic, brief interchanges, to sustained and substantive dialogue. Family meetings and especially feedback sessions can provide settings and context for this to happen. A family meeting, should be a regular time set aside to share thoughts and feelings and to discuss “How are we doing as a family and as individuals and what could we be doing differently and better?” In 2015, make a conscious decision to include your children in as many choices, discussions, and decisions as possible as part of their everyday lives.

In our next blog, we’ll be addressing the emotional need to feel Secure.

At Sparkles! we understand that satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Christine Schoppe Wauls, M.A.

For more information or to order a copy of Dr. Gerald Newmark’s book “How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children” visit

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