What Young Children Need Most

What are the most important things that children need to grow up healthy and whole? The following three factors in a child’s life have the most impact on their overall success, learning, and behavior. Here are some tips about how to create this for any child in your life. YOU can make a difference in the life of a child.

Positive Relationships:

Attachment and bonding in healthy relationships is the groundwork for all other work parents (and important adults) will do with children. This is the positive interaction between adults and children that builds a sense of connection, trust, and interdependency. For example, in infancy this is done with eye contact, being held, cooing with your baby, and showing empathy for your baby’s discomforts, among other things. As kids grow older, healthy relationships will contribute to emotional resiliency and positive behaviors.

  • Create a warm, loving, safe environment for your child.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Have reasonable expectations.
  • Use descriptive praise.
  • Spend time with your child and talk to him/her.
  • Keep your child safe and set limits.


A confident child can show respect, be considerate, be a problem solver, and become independent. This is “healthy self-esteem”; essentially the messages a child says to himself, about himself are positive; I can figure this out, I am good enough, I am loveable, I have something meaningful to contribute. Healthy self-esteem also contributes to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and asking for help when needed.

  • Encourage politeness and respectful (Be polite to model this behavior).
  • Avoid being critical of others.
  • Acknowledge kindness.
  • Encourage laughter and learning.
  • Let your child make decisions.
  • Be problem solvers together; consider options and solutions.
  • Set expectations for their best efforts.

Emotional Resiliency

Emotional resiliency is the ability to manage feelings and cope with day to day stresses as well as major life events. This also includes the ability to recognize and accept feelings and express them in appropriate ways that do not harm others. The seeds of emotional resiliency begin in early childhood when emotions dictate your behavior and communication.

  • Accept different emotions.
  • Talk about feelings (your own, too). Be honest.
  • Listen to your child without judging. Ask questions.
  • Avoid saying things like, “there is nothing to worry about” or “that’s a silly thing to be afraid of” or “you’re just tired”.
  • Allow your child to experience frustration. Don’t rush to rescue. Working through difficult tasks and completing them helps your child feel successful.
  • Talk about ways to calm down. Manage your own emotions in a healthy way so your child has a good example of emotional resiliency.
  • Encourage optimism.

There are different qualities of healthy behavior in each aspect of this list. As an important adult in a child’s life, seek a balance of positive leadership and guidance as well as connecting in meaningful ways so children see you as an ally in learning and growing.