Yash and Ameena are best friends. Yash finds it difficult to appreciate Ameena and to communicate with her. Every time Ameena shares her feelings, Yash feels discomfort and wonders how does she do it.
Yash has trouble feeling emotionally connected. Most probably, his emotional needs are not being met as a child.
What are emotional needs?
A child needs to feel safe, loved, heard, and cared for. As easy as it may seem, emotional needs need to be worked upon and met consistently. They play a huge role in shaping how an adult communicates and forms bonds with their loved ones.
What happens when emotional needs are not met?
When we fail to meet a child’s emotional needs, the child may have trouble understanding and expressing emotions. They might find it difficult to confide in people and form meaningful connections.
The child’s heart might want to feel connected and form close bonds. However, the brain is not used to it. As a result, even speaking to a closed one on a daily basis might feel like a chore. They might feel confused as to why they cannot communicate with someone they really want to communicate with.
This can lead to frustration and self-loathing.
How can we meet a child’s emotional needs?
Validate their feelings- Words can help soothe a lot of emotions. For example- If a child feels hurt about losing a friend. It might feel unimportant to you, however, this is important to the child. They probably feel upset and lost. Hug them and tell them you are here for them. Give them the space to express and come to you. Don’t jump to conclusions and say “ What did you do?” Validate their emotions by acknowledging their pain no matter how big or small it may seem to you.
Listen– As easy it may seem, listening to children is an art. We need to listen actively not just listen to respond. Sometimes children express discomfort with tantrums and anger too. It is important to listen to the non verbal signs too. Understand what the child is feeling and start from that point.
Express love– Express love in actions and words. Sometimes actions are not enough. Tell your child “I love you. “ I am here for you. “I am grateful for you.” This helps a child in appreciating their loved ones too. As adults, they won’t feel uncomfortable in expressing love.
Encourage expression– Encourage the child to express themselves in different ways. Lack of communication can affect a child’s emotional needs as well. They need to be able to communicate with themselves first in order to communicate with others.
Allow vulnerability- Celebrate a child’s individuality. Let the child cry, feel angry, and express all emotions. Share your stories with them and listen in a non-judgemental manner when they share. This helps them communicate effectively in the future when they are struggling with big feelings. There is strength in vulnerabilty.
Avoid labeling- “ Why are you crying? Are you a girl” : Avoid statements like this. Every gender is human and every gender is allowed to express their emotions. Moreover, if a child makes a mistake avoid shaming them. Help them understand why did they do it in the first place and how to rectify them in a healthy manner.
Encourage play – Let the child’s childhood stay. Children love their toys and games. Ask them before removing it. Help them find closure when a toy breaks. This helps them appreciate people or things they feel close to and find closure when it’s time to let go.
Remember, the need to feel loved and cared for is inherent. When emotional needs are met, it is easier to feel emotionally connected with others too. Let’s raise adults who are not afraid to be seen and heard.