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What Do Children Need to Thrive?

With preparations for making another addition to our growing family, I've been thinking about what it is that we actually all need to thrive. While we all have universal needs (such as food, shelter, etc.) as well as unique needs, we must consider the following for our children to thrive.

Nourishing Relationships

Relationships are fundamental to our growth and development. Nourishing relationships may look different at different stages of life and need not be perfect (not that there is such a thing), but at the foundation must be love, care, respect, reciprocity, and trust. Relationships shouldn't be just give give give, but also meeting one's own needs through respecting one's self, boundary setting, and mutual respect and love. This is especially important for parents to remember, as 'filling your own cup' is equally important when looking at the family's needs.

Relationships between a mother/father or primary carer and a baby form the blueprint for other relationships they will build over their lifetime. Children are social creatures, and nourishing relationships teach them things like regulating their emotions, building confidence, and balancing independence and co-dependence. While it may not always feel like it, teenagers need nourishing relationships too, although they may start exploring these outside of their family home. However, having that secure trusted base makes it safe for them to go out and explore the world, knowing they have somewhere to turn to when things don't go according to plan or life lessons get tough.

From an 8 year-old's perspective, when asked about what the most important things that children need to thrive answered, without hesitation:

"Love and Care… helping them if they stuck on something which is something between love and care".

Why does he think it's important?

"Otherwise the child ends up a big bully, if they have never had any love or care, because that's why bullies bully".

Empowering Environments

It's safe to say that asking a baker to bake a cake in an environment set up for bird-watching would almost inevitably result in failure. Likewise, tuning into our specific needs and creating environments that set us up for success is vitally important!

What we need environmentally is so different at different stages of life. In my home, our newborn will need a place for calm (particularly in our busy house) and stimulation. Our 8 year old really needs a place for practising his drums and getting physical (the trampoline is his best friend), while the teens are looking for some privacy and their own space to express themselves. Must not forget Mum and Dad! We need a space for us, to be together and alone too, and a separate area to work.

Is it a juggle – for sure! But running through everyone's needs and wants and then thinking about how best to order things makes a world of difference for everyone feeling like they have a space that supports them in reaching for their dreams and having what they need at the right time.


There is so much more that can be said about nourishing relationships and empowering environments, and slowly I will delve deeper into the subject. But today, ask yourself:


Make it something small and achievable.

Taking a walk together, eating dinner together, or setting a boundary or expectation are all ways to connect meaningfully and nourish your relationships.

Changing your environment to empower could be as simple as making sure your child can get a drink on his/her own, removing clothes from a wardrobe that don't fit anymore, or decluttering a single shelf in a room.

What two things can you do today to help you and your family thrive!?

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