Early yearsOver 5ParentingThe Teen Years

Meet Your Child’s Needs

 

 

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Meet Your Child’s Needs

 

Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Healthy parenting should meet the child’s needs at each stage of his/her development. What he/she needs during pre-school years is totally different than his/her needs during adolescence.

What are those needs and how they change from a stage to another?

During Infancy (from birth till almost 2 years), children need to build TRUST:

Trust is developed when caregivers provide reliability, care and affection. Being “consistent” is the keyword at this stage. The success in providing stability and consistency of care will make the infant develop the virtue of hope. At this stage, the infant must know that when he needs care he will get it. He can then have hope that when a problem arises, there is a real possibility that some people will be there as a source of support. Lack of consistency of care may lead to mistrust and the development of fear. The infant will carry the basic sense of mistrust to other relationships and will not have confidence in the world and his abilities to influence the world.

During early childhood (almost from 2 to 3 years), children need to acquire AUTONOMY:

Autonomy is developed through a sense of control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Failure to develop autonomy might result in feelings of doubts and sometimes shame. For example, rather than put on a child’s clothes, a supportive parent should have the patience to allow the child to try until he succeeds or asks for assistance. So, the parents need to encourage the child to become independent while protecting and supporting him so that constant failure is avoided. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of will. The child will become more confident and secure in his ability to survive in the world. However, if the child is overly controlled or criticized or not given the opportunity to assert himself, he might begin to feel inadequate in his ability to survive and may become overly dependent upon others, lack self-esteem and feel a sense of doubt in his own abilities.

During the preschool period (almost from 3 to 5 years), children need to have SELF-INITIATIVE:

Self-initiation is developed through exploration of the environment. Children who are discouraged from self-directed activities may feel a sense of guilt. Central to this stage is “playing”, as it provides the child with the opportunity to explore his interpersonal skills through initiating activities. Success in this stage will lead to the development of the virtue of purpose. Developing the sense of initiation makes the child feel secure in his ability to lead others and make decisions. However, if the child’s initiation is controlled or criticized, he might develop a sense of guilt. He may feel like a nuisance to others and will therefore remain a follower.

During School age (from 6 to 11 years), children need to develop the sense of industry (COMPETENCE):

Competence is developed through social interaction with friends and academic activities. Praising and encouragement create a sense of pride and accomplish. Those who are discouraged may feel a sense of inferiority. At this stage, the child’s peer group gains greater significance and becomes a major source of the child’s self-esteem. The child feels the need to win approval by demonstrating specific competencies that are valued by the society. If he is encouraged and reinforced for his accomplishments, he begins to feel competent, industrious and confident in his ability to achieve goals. If his initiatives are not encouraged, the child might begin to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities, which would negatively interfere in reaching his potentials.

During adolescence, teens need to develop a sense of IDENTITY:

At this stage, your children explore different behaviors, roles and identities. Forging strong identity serves as a basis for finding future directions in life. Those who find a sense of identity feel secure, independent and ready to face the future. Those who remain confused may feel lost, insecure and unsure of their place in the world. During adolescence, the person is becoming more independent and begins to look for the roles he will occupy in the future in terms of career, relationships, families, housing, etc. He develops the need to belong to a society and fit in. He starts to re-examine his identity and try to find out exactly who he is. Providing the opportunity to explore different lifestyles (work, education or political activities) while being supportive, understanding and caring will result in establishing a sense of identity within the society. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of fidelity. Failure to explore the person’s own possible future plans will result in role confusion, which involves not being sure about himself or his place in society. Also, parents pressuring their child into a certain identity can result in his rebellion in the form of establishing a negative identity, in addition to the feeling of unhappiness.

Our goal as parents is to understand the needs of each child in relation to his stage of development as well as his unique set of traits and interests and to provide the necessary support, encouragement and interventions to enable our children to progress through each stage as easily and successfully as possible. Always remember that growth and development take time, learning takes practice and that discipleship is a journey.

In other words, positive parenting is a continuous process and what you plant now, you will harvest later!

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Rasha El Boghdady

Rasha is a Psychology professor at the American University in Cairo. She holds a degree of Masters of Art in Counseling Psychology, International Counseling and Community Psychology (ICCP) program at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Rasha provides psychotherapy at Your Path clinic, where she integrates the Humanistic Existential approach with the Cognitive-Behavioral approach in therapy. This integration helps clients become more aware of their life’s targets, and their own behaviors and attitudes that help or hinder the process of reaching those targets. It also helps them identify their own emotions and thoughts, which is the first step towards feeling better. Rasha works with teenagers and adults in individual, couple or family settings according to the client’s situation and needs in order to provide the appropriate therapy service that would initiate the required change. She also provides consultancy to parents who need parental guidance.

 

 

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