Parents need to be aware of their children’s emotional needs

24 Mar 2022 09:55am
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Recently, I had a chat with some of my neighbour’s children. I asked each and every one of them, what do they always expect from their parents and what kind of emotional support they need to feel happy and valued as a child.

Surprisingly, when talking about emotions and feelings, these children can be really honest. Their words come straight from the heart. Every child that exists on this earth, has their own emotional needs.

If we nurture that, surely our connection with the child will be very strong, and the child can be a very successful person in all aspects, God willing.

Because emotion affects 95 per cent of our daily lives. Doesn’t it? It is crucial for parents to identify the child's emotional needs. But how? Parents must always interact and talk with the child. Talking here means really talking, not just asking if they have eaten, done their homework or prayed. Frankly, that's not really talking That’s called checking.

This is why we have to be aware of the child's emotional needs. As they get older, their develop new behaviours. As all these behaviors are actually closely related to emotional needs. I used the same approach to understand the emotions of my neighbors' children earlier.

These kids, their age ranges between 6 to 13 years and they all come from various family backgrounds.

But the stories that they shared really touched my heart. Please read this with an open mind. Here are confessions from kids who yearn for their parents’ emotional support.

“It's not my fault. I just want to be praised”

This is an expression of my neighbor's daughter. Once upon a time she quietly entered her mother’s room and played with her mother’s make-up set. After she finished putting make-up on her face, she proudly went to show it to her mother, hoping that her mother would praise her make-up skills. But the opposite happened.

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Instead, she was scolded, and worse – hit by a rattan cane. Her mother had instructed her to immediately wash her face.

She felt devasted with her mother’s reaction as she was only seeking for attention and praise. However, in return she was punished.

The girl revealed she looked up to the way her mother dolled up before going to work, so like any other child who looks up to their parents, she wanted to impress her mother by showing she too could emulate her mother’s make-up skills.

What happened afterwards is a result of the mother not understanding her daughter’s emotional needs. Imagine if you were in her shoes. You’d be sad too.

“I want to always be number one in my parents' hearts.”

This is the confession I received the most from the children I asked. Most of them said that they hate being the second or third choice by their own parents. Who's number one? Neighbors' children, cousins or children of friends in the parents’ office.

The most typical example would be, 'Look at my friend’s child. He is the champion of recitation of the Qur'an, the champion of the martial arts competition, and he received an excellent student award. It's nice to see him. But my own son? Hmm .. ' Their own children are frowned upon, while other children are looked up to. This script sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

“I consider my father to be my superhero. But..”

There is this boy who looks up to his father very much. His reason is because he was amazed to see his father go to work wearing a military uniform. In this child's view, his father is the smartest, most handsome, most powerful – far more powerful than Captain America.

In fact, he aspires to be like his father one day. But, as time goes by, he feels more and more uncomfortable when he starts to realize a lot of negative things about his father. Smoking, hitting his mom, and hot tempered.

Eventually, his emotions became unstable and confused. What a pity, right? You see, how much each of us is like a superhero in the eyes of a child? It's good for children to admire us, but we tend to ruin our own image with negative behavior.

We should always be that superhero. Be that idol in the eyes of a child. because there are children whose emotional needs reflect the emotions of their parents. Lead by example, right? If you want a good child, parents must first be a good example.

“Let me explore and give me a chance.”

I hear a lot are parents who rarely give opportunities for their kids to explore and try new things.

For example, if the child wants to help cut vegetables, they are not allowed.

If the child wants to help wash the car, they are quickly dismissed.

If they child wants to help fold clothes, they are simply not allowed to do so.

The reason remains the same, that it will not be done perfectly and will burden the parents as the have to re-do the work again. But realistically, who is the best teacher if not experience?

“Please listen to my story.”

Many of my neighbors’ children would say that their parents rarely listen to their stories. The parents just pretend to listen all the time.

This is because we always consider the stories of these young ones as nonsense, time consuming and illogical. Isn’t it? I’d like to share a fun fact. My house doesn't have a TV. And the neighbors always feel weird and think our house is lonely and boring because there is no form of entertainment in that sense.

But almost every day, children from the neighbourhood would gather at my house, especially during school holidays. From morning to dusk, the children will linger around my house, even though I do not own a TV.

What I want to tell you here, is that these children actually only need somebody to listen to them. They just want to be heard and given attention. That's it. For me, a house with an 80-inch TV, 800 million channels, is far quieter than a house that doesn’t have live TV, but has a pair of ears that are always listening. Think about it.

“I always try to make them proud. But my mother said I failed.” Most parents only look at exam results, rather than looking at the child's effort to face the exam. Because we always believe, that result represents the effort, which is actually very wrong.

What is the problem if our child scores only in the subject he is interested in? What's wrong with being proud of your child's achievements, even if it's not much? What's wrong with encouragement instead of punishment? What is the reason why the child is not able to achieve the target we set? Targets that we determined for them?

Shouldn’t the target be set set according to the child's potential? If the mentality is like this, the child will become a robot later. Not a human.

“I want support, not discouragement.”

One of my neighbor's children told me that he was always bullied at school. And every time he was bullied, he would fight back and sometimes was bullied back. He tried to tell the teacher many times , but the response he received remained the same – choose a better friend. Don't be a gangster at school.

When he complained to his parents, he was scolded. He is accused of starting fights and likes to fight. He was not heard, he didn’t receive any form of protection or support from the adults, especially his own parents.

I almost cried listening to his story. Because for me, he is a very good person. He told me, if it is possible he wants to see me every day, because he feels safe. As you can see, what does he really want emotionally? He just wants protection and support, but it’s something that’s incredibly hard for his parents to give.

So these are confessions from my neighbour’s children. Reading this, do you feel like you can relate this to your own behaviour as a parent? Do you feel like you are the characters in these stories? Well, hearing these words come out of the children’s mouth was very heartbreaking.

It's like knowing what's hidden in the hearts of children all this time. We have to be more concerned with our child's emotional needs. Realise that the behavior problems that we always see in children are often closely related to their emotional needs. The most effective way to deal with it is to understand their emotions first.

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