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Beyond Textbooks

Five Emotional Needs of Children


Sari Nieminen, Vail Inclusive Preschool



Children know whether they are being seen or listened to, or if an adult is just “faking it.” Showing sincere interest in a child’s feelings, thoughts, activities, and spending time with them one-on-one, lets them know they are important and valued. When emotional needs are consistently satisfied, children are more secure and can give to others.


For children to create a healthy self-concept, they need positive feedback. They thrive hearing positive things about their activities and character. Knowing they are valued helps them develop a sense of worth and confidence in themselves, and to realize their strengths.


Children run into challenges while growing up. Even early on they are navigating the ins and outs of social, intellectual, and emotional dos and don’ts. It gives children courage to know their caregivers will go above and beyond to help them succeed in life and lets them grow up with a sense of connectedness.


In order to flourish, children need to feel safe. This includes having age-appropriate expectations for them and setting limits that are consistently kept. Having routines provide secure feelings, as does observing the adults in their life respecting and communicating with each other. Also, children handle change best if they know about it ahead of time and what to expect.


It is important to listen to and acknowledge children's feelings, whatever they are. They need to know they can find comfort when they are sad, fearful, or otherwise upset. Emotions and feelings are not logical, nor are they supposed to be. They reflect how children view a situation or the world. Their feelings always make sense when you understand their perceptions, or how they view a person or event. By validating children's emotions, you teach them what emotions are, and give them permission to feel and share them.


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