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!***


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.

Emotionally Healthy Children Don’t Join Gangs

What leads to success in life? One of the most important factors — even more so than intelligence — is emotional health.

Bob Brunson, LMFT, Monterey County Behavioral Health

Bob Brunson, LMFT, Monterey County Behavioral Health

It’s lack of emotional health that leads some kids to join gangs. It’s why many use drugs or become pregnant too young. So says Bob Brunson, a licensed marriage and family therapist who manages the Monterey County Behavioral Health Services Department. In the following interview, Brunson explains the critical importance of raising emotionally healthy children. [Continue reading]

[The article above is an interview with Bob Brunson, Board member of The Children’s Project – How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children. It was written by Ellen Wrona and appeared in The Salinas Californian]

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

The Five Critical Emotional Needs of Children

The Five Critical Needs (excerpted from How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children)

Emotional health provides a foundation for success in school, work, marriage and life in general. Failure to recognize and satisfy these five needs jeopardizes our children’s future and that of succeeding generations. The five critical needs as a family value contributes to a healthy family environment and strengthens us as a nation.

A summary of the five critical needs – definition and examples of each.

Need to Feel Respected

Children need to feel respected. For that to happen, they need to be treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil manner. 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.

If we want children to grow up feeling respected and treating others with respect, we need to avoid sarcasm, belittling, yelling; we need to keep anger and impatience to a minimum; we need to avoid lying; we need to listen more and talk less; we need to command less and suggest and request more; we need to learn how to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me” “I’m sorry”—yes, even to children. We need to become conscious of our mistakes, willing to admit them and ready to make corrections. This will help us cultivate these values in our children.

Need to Feel Important

Feeling important refers to a child’s need to feel: “I have value. I am useful. I have power. I am somebody.”

This need is evident at a very early age. Pressing a button in an elevator—me, me. Children want to do things for themselves, and so often we get in their way.

Parents need to avoid being all powerful, solving all family problems, making all decisions, doing all the work, controlling everything that happens. Involve your children—ask their opinions; give them things to do; share decision-making and power; give them status and recognition, and have patience with mistakes when it takes a little longer or is not done as well as you could have done yourself.

If children do not feel important, if they don’t develop a sense of value in constructive ways, they may seek negative ways to get attention, to feel “I am somebody.”

Need to Feel Accepted

Children have a need to feel accepted as individuals in their own right, with their own uniqueness, and not treated as mere reflections of their parents, as objects to be shaped in the image of what parents believe their ideal child should look like. This means that children have a right to their own feelings, opinions, ideas, concerns, wants and needs. Trivializing, ignoring or ridiculing a child’s feelings or opinions is a rejection which weakens the relationship. Paying attention to and discussing them, even when you do not like or disagree with some, strengthens the relationship.

Need to Feel Included

Children need to feel included. They need 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. It happens when people engage with others in activities and projects, when they experience things together in a meaningful way. It is important for the family to create these opportunities. People who do things together feel closer to one another. Family activities offer a way to become closer and also to have fun, learn, and contribute to others.

Need to Feel Secure

Children need 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 are resolved constructively, where enough structure exists for children to feel safe and protected, and where children have opportunities to actively participate in their own and family evolution through family planning and decision making, problem solving and feedback activities.

(Click here for a printable PDF)