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!***


Children’s Need to Feel SECURE: One of the Five Critical Emotional Needs according to Dr. Gerald Newmark

“Security means creating a positive environment where people care about one another and show it; where people express themselves and others listen; where differences are accepted and conflicts are resolved constructively; where enough structure and rules exist for children to feel safe and protected, and where children have opportunities to actively participate in their own evolution and that of the family.” (MORE)

The above is from a guest post written by Dr. Gerald Newmark (author of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children ) for North Texas Kids’ blog.

Dr. Newmark outlines important elements that contribute to a child feeling secure. The following is an example:

“Traditions & Rituals – Establishing traditions and rituals to celebrate events give children a sense of stability and security, as well as family activities.”

For more practical suggestions and to read Dr. Newmark’s entire guest post CLICK HERE

(Read about the other CRITICAL EMOTIONAL NEEDS, including the need to feel respected and included).

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

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

Review and Giveaway of “How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children”!

Desiree Pollack, a certified Doula over at Pure Bliss Birth, reviewed our book How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children by Gerald Newmark, PhD, and is conducting a GIVEAWAY of a paperback copy!
Ms. Pollack begins with a quote from the book

“We know how to send people into space and produce incredible advances in science, electronics and medicine. However, when it comes to living peacefully and treating one another in emotionally healthy ways, we seem to be at a loss.” – Dr. Newmark

And goes on to say

How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children raises your consciousness about the problem, the emotional neglect of children’s needs, this book is a practical resource for parents, teachers, social workers and all others who work directly or even in-directly with children. It’s a way to create emotionally healthy environments for our children and ourselves.”

***Read the rest of the review and enter for your chance to get a free copy of the book!*** (Enter by June 2nd for a chance to win!)

Thanks, Desiree, for your commitment to Emotionally Healthy Children!!!

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

How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Parents

By Rhona Berens, PhD, CPCC Parent Advocate & Mom, and founder of Parent Alliance

Dr. Rhona Berens


Whenever I first start coaching parents, whether they’re rookies or veterans, I underscore a truism that most of us rarely think about:

Unlike most trades that demand flexibility, communication skills, commitment, significant effort, multitasking, intellectual & emotional dexterity, teamwork and long hours, being a spouse and parent are, often, jobs we tackle without formal training.

Plus, when our job descriptions as a spouse or parent change, which they always do in one way or another—e.g., kids move from preschool to grade school—there are no required mini-courses to supplement our skills, no downloads to upgrade our operating systems, just more on-the-job experience.

So in addition to some of the upsides of having spouses and kids (e.g., love), it’s no wonder many of us, at one point or another, find relationships or parenting (or both) confusing, disappointing, mystifying, and/or frustrating!

Granted, there are all sorts of relationship and parenting manuals out there—meaning, books—designed to help us, but many are hard to read, too long to fit into busy schedules, or they contradict each other.

One exception is Gerald Newmark’s How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children, a refreshingly simple (in the best sense), easy-to-read, intuitive (it justfeels right) and inspiring book designed to help parents, teachers and communities raise kids who thrive well into adulthood. (Between Thursday, February 7th – Sunday, February 10, 2013, you can download our ebook FREE here.)

Newmark’s work has the power to save children’s lives and preserve their wellbeing. I’m convinced it can have that impact on parents’ relationships, too.

The 5 Critical Emotional Needs described by Newmark—feeling respected, important, accepted, included, and secure—are, also, tools to enhance parents’ emotional health and offer us a chance to “raise” ourselves, and our marriages, as we raise our kids.

Critical Need #1: To Feel Respected

“To be treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil manner.”

Whether passed between spouses or from one to the other, disrespect—what relationship-expert, John Gottman calls contempt—is the #1 predictor of divorce. Contempt can be verbal (dismissive comments, sarcasm) or behavioral (ignoring, rolling eyes). Given the destructive impact of disrespect—and the poor relationship example it sets for kids—we’d all do well to practice respect.

Simply put: Ramp up being thoughtful, considerate and valuing spouses, even and especially when they do or say things with which we disagree.

Critical Need #2: To Feel Important
Helping spouses believe: “I have value. I am useful. I have power. I am somebody.”

Certainly, respecting spouses enhances their sense of being valued by us. So, too, does suspending judgment when they do things differently than we do.

As parents, we have many opportunities to let each other tend to our kids in our own way. If we assume there’s no one right way to do so—e.g., dress kids, play with them, feed them, etc.—and we encourage and support spouses to parent in his or her own way, we impart our trust in the value of their contributions and their power to make decisions and choices, even ones that contrast with our own.

Critical Need #3: To Feel Accepted
“To feel accepted as individuals in their own right, with their own uniqueness, and not treated as…objects to be shaped in the image of what [we] believe [our] ideal [spouse] should look like.”

I’ve written elsewhere about how objectifying our spouses and kids undermines our relationship with them. When we treat spouses as objects—which includes: trying to mold them into who we want them to be, instead of loving who they already are—we act insincerely, dwell on a desired future vs. the present at hand, and foster disconnection and mistrust.

Understanding that our spouses are different from us, and worthy of our acceptance and love not only despite, but because, of those differences, enhances friendship between us and fans the flames of intimacy. 

Critical Need #4: To Feel Included

“To be brought in, to be made to feel a part of things, to feel connected to other people, to have a sense of community.”

One of the surest signs that a relationship is strained is a persistent desire to spend time with our kids or friends or at work, instead of with our spouses. In lieu of collaborating, and working as a team, we avoid each other and foster bonds elsewhere.

In and of itself, turning to our children for connection and to create community is great. But when we do so as a substitute for connecting with spouses, we put undue pressure on our kids to fulfill us, and we forfeit relationship satisfaction in the process. Learning how to reconnect with each other, despite our differences, despite the demands of parenting, feeds our desire to feel included and an integral part of our family.

Critical Need #5: To Feel Secure
“Security means creating a positive environment where people care for each other and show it, where people express themselves and others listen, where differences are accepted and conflicts resolved constructively….”

Just as we’re not taught to be a spouse or parent, most of us lack skills to reduce conflicts or bypass them altogether. Yet, without know-how to resolve conflicts productively—e.g., to compromise out of choice vs. to appease each other—we often feel insecure in our relationships and unheard or rejected by spouses.

Given that 95% of conversations end the way they begin, one path to conflict-resolution is to become more aware of what we say, why we’re saying it, and the feelings that motivate us to broach a subject.

This can be especially useful if we want to tackle challenging topics. Before starting a conversation, take a moment to evaluate what you want to accomplish and what words might best help you reach your goal.

Every parent knows that our children are among our most inspiring and persistent teachers. They teach us to see the world in new ways, to look at our own childhoods for lessons we want to impart or avoid, to open our hearts wider than we thought possible.

Newmark’s 5 Critical Emotional Needs offer yet another way to learn, this time not from our kids, but with them. As we practice fulfilling their needs in our parenting and our relationships, we’ll all—adults and kids alike—grow up to be healthy and strong.

(This blog post was originally published on the Parent Alliance blog, and was reposted with permission of the author.)
Order How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children in English or Spanish and learn more about the 5 Critical Emotional Needs

Emotionally Healthy Divorce in 5 Easy Steps

The 5 Critical Emotional Needs in How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is the foundation to help create an emotionally healthy divorce instead of an experience that can be extremely difficult for the entire family. In this article, Nicole Witt explains Dr. Newmark’s 5 Critical Emotional Needs that need to be met to maintain healthy relationships, including healthy post-divorce relationships.Emotionally Healthy Divorce

It is so important for our children’s emotional health that the parents, whether together or not, maintain a peaceful and respectful relationship. Granted, it is always harder to achieve when the split– and the hurt–is fresh, but you can work toward a harmonious family life — even after divorce!

Nicole writes:

Today, I am going to talk about the 5 critical emotional needs that every person needs to have fulfilled in order to have productive and peaceful relationships. In his book How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents Too! Updated Edition,

Gerald Newmark, Ph.D discusses these 5 emotional needs in relation to children, but as we are all just grown-up children, they can apply to adults as well and to any relationship.

When going through a divorce it is important to keep these needs of yourself, your ex, and your children in mind in order to have as peaceful an experience as possible.

1. The Need to Feel Respected

Respect is a word we throw around a lot.  But if you ask someone to define what respect is, they may have a hard time coming up with a black and white definition.  We tend to think of it as a “I’ll know it when I feel it” kind of thing.  And we definitely know when we feel disrespected by others…Read More

About Nicole Witt, from her website:

My name is Nicole Witt and I am a Mediator and Conflict Resolution Specialist in Los Angeles, California.  In 2004, I went through my own high conflict divorce.  Things were so bad that one night during a phone conversation with my ex, the amount of tears I was crying actually fried my cell phone!  Now – 8 years later – my ex, my son, my new husband, and myself actually find ourselves sitting down to dinner together fairly often for special events and after football games.  It still amazes me that we have been able to come this far.

That is why I started this website – so you can be amazed too.

Order How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children from

WHAT IS CONFLICT? (or “What’s REALLY going on here?”)


Written by Nicole Witt for The Children’s Project

What is conflict? The simple answer is that conflict arises when there is a difference of opinion. However, people can “agree to disagree” without any negative conflict arising, so it must be something more than that.

I would venture to say that 90% of all conflicts are due to one or more parties feeling that their needs are not being met or are being violated in some way. Yes, on the surface the conflict may be about money or property or some other material object, but if we are willing to go deeper and take the time to peel back the layers, there is usually more going on.

Dr. Gerald Newmark, Ph.D in his book How to Raise Emotionally Heathly Children: Meeting the Five Critical Needs of Children…and Parents too!, lists the 5 critical emotional needs of children as the need to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure. Dr. Newmark suggests that in reality we all have these needs even as adults and I would have to agree.

In digging into a conflict and getting beyond the parties “positions” and into what is really driving them (their interests) in almost all cases you will discover that at least one party feels disrespected, not important, unaccepted, not included, and/or not secure (scared) in some way. Once you get to this “heart” of the conflict you can not only begin to resolve the conflict at hand but hopefully bring about a change in the underlying relationship. At the very least, the parties should walk away from the mediation feeling better about the situation than when they walked in.

So how might the lack of having these needs met in an interaction end up in conflict and how do they present themselves in the process of mediation? One of the most common complaints you will hear in the course of a party telling their story is that the other side disrespected them. What does this mean exactly? Dr. Newmark defines disrespect as treating others in an uncivil manner or with rudeness. In addition, lying is also seen as disrespectful. Disrespect is often in the “eye of the beholder” meaning that what one perceives as disrespectful behavior may, in fact, just be thoughtlessness or distracted behavior on the part of the other person. The problem arises when the aggrieved party takes such behavior personally as an affront against them. The interesting thing about someone’s perceived lack of respect is that it tends to elicit a response that is out of proportion to the actual incident as discussed by Rick Garlikov in Disrespect and Disproportional Retaliation ( Road rage is one such example.

A party might feel that they are not being accepted when their opinions or ideas are met with ridicule or are simply ignored or they may feel left out or not included when they are not involved in making important decisions. This can lead them to push in a negative way to have their voice heard. This also coincides with feeling unimportant. We have all heard that children act out when they feel ignored because even negative attention is better than none. Often times this behavior can carry over into adulthood as well.

Feeling insecure can manifest in many ways that are common when discussing the cause of a dispute. Safety is a big one. People can be afraid for their physical safety as well as that of their family (as seen in Civil Harassment type cases) or in many cases involving monetary issues, they can be afraid of not having enough financial security in the future and this drives them to push a conflict forward.

So, as mediators we can use our awareness of these issues not only to make sure that the actual mediation takes place in a respectful, inclusive, and secure manner where everyone feels important and accepted, but we can also keep these 5 Critical Needs in mind when exploring what brought the parties to mediation in the first place and how they can now solve their conflict and go forward with their relationships in the future.

About Nicole Witt
Nicole is a Mediator, Conflict Resolution Coach, and founder of where she aims to bring peace to divorced families. To find out the biggest mistakes women make after a divorce, grab her free special report. To find out more about mediation, please visit

About The Children’s Project
The Children’s Project (TCP) started with a book: How To Raise Emotionally Children, then added a program, followed by a project and now has become a movement. It is dedicated to awakening American consciousness as to how failure to meet critical emotional needs of children, and adults too, is a root cause of our recurring crises in schools, families, communities, businesses and society at large. Resources and training provided by TCP has enabled a wide variety of populations, from all walks of life and ethnic groups, to have their emotional needs satisfied. The result is more persons growing up, living and working in emotionally healthy environments – at the same time developing persons who are more likely to become independent, reliable, self-confident, thinking, civic-minded and caring individuals.

For more information about The Children’s Project go to:

Order How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children in English or Spanish and learn more about the 5 Critical Emotional Needs

Children’s Need to be Respected

A critical emotional need of children is to feel respected. For that to happen, they need to be treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil manner – as individuals, deserving of the same courtesy and consideration as others. One of the best ways for children to learn about respect is to feel what it’s like to be treated respectfully and to observe their parents and other adults treating one another the same way.

When children are not treated with respect, it can lower their self-esteem and cause them to become rebellious and to act disrespectfully toward others.

Parents’ opinions, values, attitudes, and actions, matter to children. We don’t think of children as having the same needs as adults, and we do not realize the effect we have on them by what we say and how we say it…. (MORE)

– From Dr. Jerry’s Guest post on North Texas Kids’ blog

Read the entire post HERE