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Human Emotional Needs

Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep. One person may need more freedom and independence; another may need more security and social connections. One may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding, while another is content to accept whatever is told to him.

One of the major problems I have observed in schools is the treatment of all children as if their emotional and psychological needs were identical. The result is many children's needs are unsatisfied. They then become frustrated, as any of us do when our needs are unmet. They act out their frustration in various ways which are typically seen as "misbehavior." This is especially evident when children are expected to all do the same thing for the same length of time. The better we identify their unique needs and satisfy them, the few behavioral problems.

In various degrees, each according to his (or her) own unique nature, we each need to feel:

accepted
accepting
accomplished
acknowledged
admired
alive
amused
appreciated
appreciative
approved of
attention
capable
challenged
clear (not confused)
competent
confident
developed
educated
empowered
focused
forgiven
forgiving
free
fulfilled
grown or growing
happy
heard
helped
helpful
important
in control
included
independent
interested
knowledgeable
listened to
loved
needed
noticed
open
optimistic
powerful
privacy
productive
protected
proud
reassured
recognized
relaxed
respected
safe
satisfied
secure
significant
successful
supported
treated fairly
understanding
understood
useful
valued
worthy

Attention

We believe that it is natural for us to seek attention. This is especially true when we are in need. For example, if you were drowning, would you want attention? If your house were on fire, would you want attention?

We also believe it is natural for us to want attention when we believe we have something important to say, for instance if we wanted to warn someone of an impending danger. If you knew that a building were on fire with people inside, would you want others' attention even if you yourself were not in danger?

We had heard parents say "Ignore him. He just wants attention." To me this is similar to saying, "Don't feed him. He is just hungry."