Do you know your 5 critical emotional needs?

Parents and Caregivers Join to Meet the 5 Critical Needs of Children
from Paige Beatty

In a time of increasing attention to standards and a focus on knowledge and cognitive skills, we continue to hear about a crises of bullying, social isolation, and children unprepared for school in many ways. Last year I attended a panel discussion of kindergarten teachers talking about the skills they wish children had when they entered their classes. These teachers, from a variety of schools and backgrounds, agreed unanimously that the social emotional skills made the biggest difference in school success.

Brittany Quote 2jpgThose of us in early childhood recognize the importance of social emotional development and emotional health. We understand that all learning happens through relationships. So how can we make certain that we are meeting the emotional needs of the children in our care? How can we help families do the same?

In the book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting the Five Needs of Children…And Parents Too! Gerald Newmark offers insight and tools for just that. The book, although geared towards parents, is applicable to anyone who spends time with children.

Dr. Newmark recognizes that many parents have spent large amounts of time being educated and trained on a variety of topics – but seldom on raising children. Parenting, while based in love and enthusiasm, may at times be hit-or-miss. Dr. Newmark states that childrearing is too important to leave to chance. He encourages parents to be thoughtful about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Dr. Newmark advocates for being a professional at parenting – use a set of core values to make conscious decisions about behavior; act in a way that is knowledgeable and systematic; study and change your own behavior (the only thing you actually have control over) when a situation is not what you’d like; and have an experimental attitude.

Every interaction with another person represents an opportunity to connect or disconnect. Connections build positive relationships, which are the foundation for all types of learning and growth, but particularly for social emotional development. Irrespective of the situation or type of interaction, we can work on building connections by focusing on meeting what Dr. Newmark calls the 5 critical needs.

The 5 Critical Emotional Needs are the need to feel:

Respected – I am treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive, and civil manner as an individual, deserving of the same courtesy and consideration of others.

Important – I have value, I am useful, I have power, I am somebody.

Accepted – I am an individual in my own right. I have a right to my own feelings, opinions, ideas, concerns, wants, and needs.

Included – I belong, am a part of things, connected to other people, with a sense of community.

Secure – I am safe and protected. I’m in a positive environment where people care about one another and show it, people express themselves and others listen, differences are accepted and conflicts resolved constructively. There are structures, limits, and consequences.

With these needs met, children – and adults! – are more likely to: respect themselves and others, believe in themselves and others, have a positive attitude towards life and others, develop and use self-discipline, and develop healthy relationships.

Taking Action

At our Center, we took a dual approach to using this book – distributing it to parents for their edification and use at home with their children, and distributing it to staff not only for use in their work with young children, but also in their daily work with one another.

Reproduced from The Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education (VAECE)
Viewpoint Newsletter

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available in paperback and ebook in both English and Spanish.

***Visit us at The Children’s Project, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***


I asked my husband, “What do we do now?!”

Below is a review of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children from Mommy’s Memorandum.  babyhospital

When we rolled out of the hospital with our first born, the nurse left us on the curb with our baby… that’s it.  I asked my husband, “What do we do now?!”  Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and sometimes as a parent, I let life get in between my precious children and me.  How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is a gentle reminder of behaviors that will support a child’s five critical emotional needs.  I need a reminder to think of my vocation as Mom as a profession!  I often remind myself that as a classroom teacher, I was sometimes more patient, respectful, and loving of a stranger’s child than I am to my own.  It makes me sad, but I know that my realization of this makes me a better mom.  I love my kids (who doesn’t?) and I want them to grow into really awesome adults and citizens of our great country.  How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is a book that helped me and will hopefully help you or a parent or a teacher that you know to get to know children for whom they are and for whom they will become as an individual!

how to raise emotionally healthy children

Each chapter provides examples of behaviors that will support (and not support) those emotional needs.

The first need is that a child needs to be respected.  For a child to fee respected, he needs to be treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil manner.  Children are, after all, individuals that deserve the same courtesy and consideration that we give to others

A child needs to feel important.  She needs to know she has value and that she is useful.  As parents we need to give our children power and teach them that they are SOMEBODY.

Children need to feel accepted as individuals in their own right, in their own uniqueness.  This means that children have a right to their own feelings, opinions, ideas, concerns, wants and needs.

The fourth critical emotional need is that a child needs to feel included.  Children need to feel they belong, to feel a part of things, to feel connected to other people, and to have a sense of community.

Lastly, children need to feel secure.  Security means creating a positive environment where people care about one another and show it.  There needs to be enough structure to exist for children to feel safe and protected and where they have opportunities to actively participate in their own evolution and that of the family.  Dr. Newmark poses a scenario of the parents always bickering; how does this make a child feel?  In order to provide security, Dr. Newmark suggests creating traditions and rituals that the child can grow to depend on.

Dr. Newmark gives so many situations to help exemplify a positive, respectful environment and hurtful behaviors that smash children’s feelings.  For instance, a woman relays that when she was a teen, her parents treated her room as if it were her home.  They knocked before entering, allowed her to decorate as she pleased, and never criticized the room’s appearance.  Dr. Newmark is realistic enough to know that this is not the norm, but he is gentle in his approach to helping (us) parents know how to fix the problem.  He tackles situation after situation that many of us have encountered on a daily basis and teaches us the best way to handle it and how the poor behavior will impact the child.

Parenting is probably the most important and most difficult responsibility any one of us might have in a lifetime.  Ironically, it’s rare that parents set aside time to question how well they are doing.  In our careers, we make conscious decisions, we have a game plan, we become a student of our own behavior, and we have an experimental attitude.  As parents, we should adopt this same level of professionalism to our role at home.  Changing habits or adopting new habits is not easy.  How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children actually gives parents a game plan to help them make the transition from concept to action!

This book is more like a workbook that will guide parents to reflect on their parenting skills and what they believe about parenting and help them to become STRONGER parents.  Dr. Newmark has even written a chapter that goes through those rough obstacles that we all encounter.  I know that as a parent, my skills crash to the ground as soon as I feel that I have over-extended myself.  This happens quite a bit as a home schooling mom to four lovely darlings.  I have to step back, reflect, and prioritize what is happening in my life at that moment.  What a simple task with monumental rewards!

The thing to remember is that families need to create a sense of community, and to be involved with one another:  DO THINGS TOGETHER!  Preparation for meeting a child’s emotional needs should begin in pregnancy and continue once the child is born, but it’s never too late to start adopting the five critical needs and making positive changes in your family.

Next to family, schools have the greatest influence in meeting the five critical needs of children.  The Children’s Project is a grassroots, non-commercial effort, by Dr. Gerald Newmark and Deborah Newmark designed to help schools meet the five critical needs of children.  As children experience what it is like to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure and these needs become a home and school value, the kids are more likely to become self-confident, independent, thinking, caring, civic-minded individuals.

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available in paperback and ebook in both English and Spanish.

***Visit us at The Children’s Project, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***


Someday is Not a Day of the Week: Overcoming Obstacles and Taking Control

The obstacles that we commonly experience in parenting are feeling overwhelmed, lack of planning, resistance to planning, over-seriousness and unrealistic expectations.  There always will be conflicts between the things that you need to get done for your family, your career, and your own personal nurturing. You will never be able to do everything. Time is limited and tasks to be performed are unlimited, but you can only do what you can do. Having a framework for making conscious decisions about trade-offs, compromises and adjustments will ease the task, but it won’t be easy. It will require discipline, practice, and perseverance, but it is worth the effort.

Dirty Messy_RoomTaking Control of Your Life
So what’s a parent to do? How do you get everything done in the limited time available? The answer is to take control of your life. Recognize that some of the pressures you feel are self-imposed and unnecessary. Begin by recognizing these and getting rid of them. Remind yourself that no matter how much you have to do or how limited your resources are, there are always choices to be made and by making them, stress can be reduced. In addition, you must be ready to let go of being overwhelmed.  Becoming a professional at parenting means becoming a more conscious parent. It means recognizing that if you feel overwhelmed, it’s an indication that you are doing too much and/or behaving inefficiently. The following are suggestions to help you move toward taking better control of your life.

Prepare Preliminary To-Do List
If there’s too much on it, determine what’s essential and place non-essential items on a “future” list

Prioritize and Schedule
Prepare a 30-day calendar allocating specific days and time blocks for the essential activities

Create Additional Time
Extend the workday – not recommended but an option, if no other works
Create more time by simplifying and reducing wasted or inefficient use of time, such as:

  • Too many trips for errands which could be combined
  • Procrastination
  • Unnecessary phone calls and/or long phone calls
  • Not preparing things for the next day
  • Agreeing to do something which you really didn’t want or need to do
  • Not concentrating on one thing at a time, and accumulating a backlog of unfinished tasks
  • Not setting priorities
  • Allowing too many distractions, such as turning on the TV for a short break which then becomes a long one.

Do some things less thoroughly or less frequently, such as housecleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

Delegate – get help from your spouse, children and extended family
Barter – exchange help with someone (e.g., look after a neighbor’s children along with your own and have them do the same for you).
Pay for help – if necessary, sacrificing something material for household or childcare
Networking – create or join a support group for sharing activities or providing other support
Reduce unnecessary worry – just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s probable

Reduce negative effects of false emergencies, interruptions, and distractions

On-going Planning and Revision
Given the possibilities described above to parent smarter rather than harder, you are in a position to (a) prepare a plan that is more realistic, less stressful, and more productive, and (b) to evaluate results and make adjustments along the way. Evaluation of the schedule involves looking at what was actually done in relation to what was originally planned, and deciding what, if anything, could have been done better. The longer you stay with the process, the more skilled you become and the easier it gets.

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available in paperback and ebook in both English and Spanish.

***Visit us at The Children’s Project, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

Are YOU a Professional At Parenting?

Becoming professional means becoming a conscious ­parent—that is, possessing a set of core values and applying them to parenting in a systematic and consistent way. The following discussion involves four essential elements of professionalism taken from Dr. Gerald Newmark’s best-selling book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children…Meeting the Five Needs of Children and Parents Too!

Image1) Making Conscious Decisions

When parents possess a clear set of core values, they are less likely to work at cross-purposes or to misunderstand each other’s actions or motives. It gives focus to their par­enting activities and increases the probability that they will act more effectively.  The initial step in making the five critical needs of children an effective part of family life is to solidify this intent with the following conscious decisions:

Adopting the Five Critical Needs

I will adopt the five critical needs as core values to guide my behavior as follows:

1. By treating my children with as much respect as I would want to receive and give.

2. By treating my children in ways that enhance their feeling of being important.

3. By accepting my children as unique, independent indi­viduals entitled to their own ideas, feelings, thoughts, and opinions.

4. By helping my children feel a sense of community—creating family activities in which they are involved and viewing our family as a “Learning Community.”

5. By increasing my children’s feeling of security through role-modeling a loving, respectful relationship with my spouse or, if a single parent, with the significant others in my life.

2) Having a Game Plan

Changing habits or starting new habits is not easy. Many good intentions break down because they never get converted to action.  The idea is to make a commitment and get started immediately, even if only in a small way. As you gradually start doing things in a more systematic way, it will become easier and you will want to do more.

3) Becoming a Student of Your Own Behavior

Asking one another for feedback is rare among family members, nor does it occur to parents to have regular family feedback sessions to talk about what’s happening in their lives and how to make them better. Cultivate a positive attitude (all feedback is useful).  View criticism as an act of friendship and concern, not hostility.  If you agree with it, use it to take positive ­action.  If you disagree, take the opportunity to clarify and clear the air.  Engaging in the feedback activities has the potential for being one of the most interesting and valuable experiences of family life.  In a future article we’ll provide a tool for studying your own behavior.

 4) Having an Experimental Attitude

Accepting life as one big experiment, the family becomes a fertile and special laboratory to conduct your very own re­search on how to create an emotionally healthy environment in which the individuals are both the experimenters and the subjects.  As you look at your own behavior and identify something you did well, you might then choose to try different ways to expand on this or, for something you didn’t do well, ways to improve. Starting family meetings early in the process is important. This is where you emphasize the concept of the family as a community and what that means in terms of responsibilities to one another and for one’s own well-being.

In this article, we stressed the importance of becoming a conscious, thoughtful parent, of not leaving parenting to chance. The goal of developing emotionally healthy children involves making your child’s emotional needs a priority, ap­plying the four elements of professionalism as a strategy, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle by not neglecting your own personal needs. 

Satisfying a child’s five critical emotional needs will enable them to become self-confident, independent, responsible, thinking, caring and civic-minded individuals.

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available in paperback and ebook in both English and Spanish.

***Visit us at The Children’s Project, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***

A Refreshing Perspective from a Daddy Blogger

From the first moments we see our children (and hold them in our arms), we want to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to give them the best shot at a healthy, happy life.



This is how Don from begins his review of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children on his blog.

He goes on to say about the Five Critical Emotional Needs identified in the book, “Dr. Newmark also does a really good job of discussing why all these things are essential for every child, what you can do to ensure that these needs are met, and how these factors evolve through the growth and development of every child.”

Don’s conclusion?

 I highly recommend adding this book to your arsenal of resources.

It was refreshing to read a review from the perspective of a father. Don talks about his experiences and uses metaphors that some fathers (AND mothers) might be more likely to relate to. To see some examples, read the rest of Don’s review HERE!

Don is from St. Louis, Missouri  a father of two, and the Founder & CEO of

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available in paperback and ebook in both English and Spanish.

***Visit us at The Children’s Project, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***

“Go to church, never get in trouble, & father always knows best?”: An ’emotionally healthy’ book review & giveaway

A book review of How
to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
from Far from

Part of the reason I
accepted this book to review was because I felt like I did not
receive an emotionally healthy upbringing.

My childhood was nourished in a bubble of fantasy – to
this day my parents refuse to accept the reality of today’s
society. They grew up in the idyllic 1950′s and they raised me in
that same atmosphere as well. They had three rules: go to church,
never get in trouble, and father always knows best.

20130807-081755.jpg This is all fine and dandy until the child becomes
a teenager with a will of her own. What do you do when you want to
break out of your sheltered existence to experience the real world
but your parents tell you their experiences ended negatively so you
must stay inside where it is safe? I was never trusted, always
guilty until proven innocent. Eventually I got tired of fighting
for my innocence and the opportunity to enjoy the fun of a
teenager’s life. I didn’t get into drugs or get knocked up at 16,
but I did do a lot of other stupid stuff. Stuff that is really
child’s play in the world of today’s teenagers. At one point my
parents took me to see a therapist, who sided with them in every
instance, in hopes that I would “see the errors” of my ways. Oh
yeah, that sure happened! Continue
reading for full review and book giveaway!
book How
to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children
available from Amazon paperback
and in both English and
***As always, you can visit us at The Children’s
website, LIKE us on Facebook,
or follow
on on Twitter!***

LOVE is an action word

In How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children, Dr. Gerald Newmark defines the five critical emotional needs of children – and parents, too – as:

    The need to feel INCLUDED
    The need to feel RESPECTED
    The need to feel IMPORTANT
    The need to feel ACCEPTED
    The need to feel SECURE

Perhaps you have asked yourself, “What about love? Why hasn’t love been included as one of the five critical needs of children?” It was omitted purposefully, not because it lacks importance—on the contrary, it is extremely important—but rather because the word “love” has lost some of its force and meaning through overuse and misuse.

In many cases, saying the words “I love you” has become trite, meaningless, or confusing. In a scene from the movie Nuts, a conversation takes place between a mother and her estranged daughter: The mother says to the daughter, “You know we love you sweetheart, don’t you? Didn’t we always tell you we loved you?” To which the daughter replies angrily, “Love? What do you know about love? You told me you loved me, but you never showed me you did.” Yes, there is a difference.

There are parents who abuse or neglect their children and then say, “I love you,” thinking it makes up for their behavior. Too often, love is equated with saying “I love you.” If saying “I love you” were enough, we might not have such a high divorce rate. Marriages don’t break up because a spouse stops saying “I love you.” They break up because spouses quit treating each other in a loving way.

Most parents love their children or so we assume. However, we cannot assume from this that most parents act in a loving way. Dr. Newmark’s answer to “What about love?” is that loving your child is essential and saying “I love you” is important, but neither is sufficient unless you act in a loving way. That is why he defines “acting in a loving way” as relating to children in ways that make the child feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure—that’s the best way to say, “I love you.”

Our book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook in both English and Spanish.

***As always, you can visit us at The Children’s Project website, LIKE us on Facebook, or follow us on on Twitter!***