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Your Child's Internal Needs Impact Their Emotions: Meeting the Foundations of Maslow's Hierarchy

After reading this article, you will:

  1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and its impact on emotional regulation in children.

  2. Learn practical strategies for meeting the physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation needs of your child.

  3. Discover how addressing these foundational needs contributes to your child's emotional well-being and ability to regulate their emotions effectively.

  4. Acquire valuable insights into creating a safe and nurturing environment that supports your child's emotional development.

  5. Learn how The Galaxy Guide integrates Maslow's Hierarchy to promote emotional regulation and provide a holistic approach to supporting your child.

In this post, we will take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and its influence on your child's emotional regulation. By understanding and addressing the fundamental needs outlined in the hierarchy, you can support your child's emotional well-being and help them develop effective emotional regulation skills. This article will discuss each level of the hierarchy, its impact on emotional development, and practical strategies for meeting your child's needs. Although it can be wordy, it's important that we address that our children's internal needs must be met before we can expect them to safely navigate the wide range of emotions during their day.

Meet Mr Maslow!

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, proposed by A. H. Maslow in 1943, suggests that humans are motivated by a hierarchy of needs that shape their actions and behaviours. According to Maslow, if some of our most fundamental needs are unmet, it becomes challenging to engage in everyday tasks and routines, hindering our ability to address higher-level needs.

To build meaningful relationships and thrive in everyday life For children to form meaningful relationships and thrive in everyday life, it is crucial to address the different categories of needs outlined in Maslow's Hierarchy. Meeting these needs is essential in learning to regulate emotions effectively, as emotional well-being is closely tied. The Heirarchy of Needs Understanding the relationship between Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and emotional regulation is key to supporting children's emotional well-being. Let's delve into each level of the hierarchy and explore practical strategies for addressing these needs.

  1. Physiological Needs: At the base of Maslow's Hierarchy are physiological needs, including air, water, food, shelter, and sleep. It is essential for parents to ensure that their children's basic physiological needs are met. This involves providing nutritious meals, maintaining a safe and comfortable living environment, and establishing healthy sleep routines. By meeting these needs, children are more likely to feel secure and have the energy required for emotional regulation.

  2. Safety Needs: Safety needs encompass physical safety, emotional security, and stability. Parents can create a sense of safety for their children by establishing consistent routines, setting clear boundaries, and creating a nurturing and supportive environment. Providing a safe space where children feel protected and valued helps build their emotional resilience and provides a foundation for emotional regulation.

  3. Love and Belonging Needs: Children have a natural need for love, affection, and a sense of belonging. Parents can support these needs by fostering warm and loving relationships within the family, encouraging positive social interactions with peers, and involving children in community activities. Creating a sense of belonging helps children develop a strong support network, enhances their self-esteem, and promotes emotional well-being.

  4. Esteem Needs: Esteem needs involve developing a positive self-image, feeling competent, and receiving recognition and respect from others. Parents can support their children's esteem needs by encouraging their strengths and talents, providing constructive feedback, and celebrating their achievements. Creating opportunities for children to explore their interests and develop a sense of mastery fosters a healthy self-esteem, contributing to emotional regulation.

  5. Self-Actualisation Needs: Self-actualisation needs relate to personal growth, self-discovery, and realising one's full potential. Parents can support their children in this area by encouraging autonomy, fostering a growth mindset, and providing opportunities for creativity and self-expression. Allowing children to pursue their passions and interests, and providing guidance and support, enables them to develop a strong sense of identity and purpose, facilitating emotional regulation.

Why is that important? Children need to feel safe in their environments and with the people they are around. If a child does not feel safe, they will remain in a constant state of fight-flight-freeze or fawn stress, where they communicate their feelings of perceived danger through unsafe actions like hitting, kicking, biting, yelling, or running away. It is essential that we create an environment where our children feel safe and have trusted relationships with others, enabling them to express their feelings and seek help if needed. Children also need their internal needs met, such as hunger, thirst, sensory needs, sleep, and toileting, to feel comfortable in their bodies and regulate their emotions safely.

The Galaxy Guide to Running My Rocket

In The Galaxy Guide to Running My Rocket, these concepts are addressed. We introduce readers to "Planet Zonk," a planet dedicated to our internal needs. The book offers children increased understanding through emotional modelling that if we don't feel okay on the inside, the gravitational forces in the galaxy can pull our rockets onto Planet Zonk. The book also stresses that we can't move off this planet until we have met these needs, providing child-friendly language to explain these concepts and help children articulate them to those around them.

Through the inclusion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, The Galaxy Guide to Running My Rocket promotes the understanding that emotional regulation is not solely dependent on individual efforts but is influenced by the overall environment in which a child grows and develops. By prioritising the safety needs of children and their internal needs, the book offers a comprehensive approach to supporting their emotional well-being, laying the foundation for healthy emotional regulation skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Our Online Emotions Workshop includes a walk through of this concept as well as a detailed neurodiverse-affirming and science-backed tips to support children during emotional dysregulation. This self-paced two-hour includes a detailed walk through of emotional regulation strategies and a plan to help you help your child.

References: Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227-268.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.

Sroufe, L. A. (2005). Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood. Attachment & Human Development, 7(4), 349-367.


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