When we think of providing the basic needs of our children, we generally think of food, shelter, and clothing. It is also important to remember basic psychological needs. Kids need to feel loved and valued for who they are. They need to experience a consistent sense of physical and emotional safety. They also need to feel a sense of belonging and connection within their families and social circles.
Our children navigate a variety of settings every day—as family members, students, and friends. Some are also members of clubs, organizations, and sports teams. Each setting poses different role expectations, influences, pressures, and sources of fulfillment. We hope that each environment builds them up, but we can’t guarantee our children will always feel safe, loved, and connected the way we’d like.
The outside world has more access to our children than ever before. Even in the loving, consistent, and safe environments we’ve created in our homes, their exposure to harmful outside influences is only a Snapchat or text message away.
Here are some ways to help your child be psychologically healthy:
- Spend time together without the distraction of electronic devices. Ask questions and truly know what is important in their lives, and be supportive when they open up.
- Take time to understand social media and monitor your children’s use of electronic devices.
- Encourage your children to invite friends over. Talk with the friends and get to know their parents. This will facilitate social connections for your children and help you ensure they are involved with a positive peer group.
- Encourage your children to reach out in positive ways to peers. Something as simple as a smile and a hello can turn someone’s day around and help them feel a sense of connection.
- Educate your children about bullying and let them know that it’s okay to ask for help if this is happening to them or other children. Children need to know that participating in bullying is never okay.
If you notice that your child is struggling, it is okay to reach out for help. Psychology services can provide a safe place for you and your child to explore difficulties going on at home, in school, or in other important areas of life, and to develop effective strategies to address these difficulties. Our children need to feel loved, connected, safe, and empowered to effectively navigate what comes their way.
Call us for details: In Sioux Falls, 605-444-9700. In Sioux City, 712-226-ABLE (2253). In Rapid City, 605-791-7400.
Learn more about our therapy services here.
-Jaime Hudson, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, LifeScape