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As parents, it can be hard not to put too much focus on our child’s physical development and intellectual needs, while allowing their emotional needs to fall to the wayside. However, our children’s emotional needs are just important, if not more important, than anything else.

To thrive in life, children need emotional stability. Without their emotional needs being properly attended to, life can be far more difficult and painful than it needs to be, And while it can be difficult to understand where to start, their basic needs are fundamental.

Here are 9 emotional needs every child has that should be attended to for the best mental health possible.

1. Safety and security.

Children need and want security from their parents and in their life. To properly develop and flourish emotionally, they need to feel safe. Above all, it’s your job as a parent to make them feel safe.

2. Routine

A healthy and consistent routine is so important for little ones. And when a child has a healthy and consistent routine, the rest falls into place.

3. Unconditional love.

Everyone, especially growing children, needs to feel unconditional love. No child should have to meet certain expectations to be love. Love is the basis for which all else follows, and without it- your child will feel neglected and suffer long-term consequences.

4. Playtime with you and with friends.

Playtime is of the utmost importance. It not only provides connection, but also teaches your child important life skills and social skills.

5. Encouragement.

Children are in their formative years. During those years, they sometimes won’t have the tools needed to allow them to see beyond obstacles and hardships, but that is where you as their parent come in. When you notice your child struggling- encourage them.

6. Discipline

As a parent, you must draw the lines in the sand and show your child the rules of the road. At times, they may not love the fact that you make them do things they don’t want to do (like brush twice daily and get plenty of veggies) but they will thank you later.

7. Acceptance

Accepting your child, no matter what, provides them with confidence. And through life, this is one of the best gifts you can ever give them.

8. Validation

Sometimes, your child will become upset or have intense emotions. Don’t shut them down or tell them to “stop it.” Instead, tell them you understand and validate their emotions. Then, you can help them through them. Later, this will provide them with the skills to work through intense emotions on their own.

9. Understanding

Everyone wants and needs to feel understood. At times, you may not truly understand your little one, but even when you don’t, especially when you don’t – try to. Ask them what’s going on and empathize with them.