Dependency needs are part of the critical development stages of childhood. These very important needs cannot get met by our kids on their own. They need their parents or primary caregivers to help them get these needs met.
When these needs get met, we have healthy happy children who grow up to be happy healthy adults. When these needs do not get met, our children grow up to be dysfunctional adults with low self esteem.
The degree of dysfunction depends on what needs did not get met. We also have a wounded out of control inner child running our lives. The sad part is we are still trying to get these needs met however, by inappropriate means.
That is why is it so vitally important we understand what these needs are and how to go about helping our children get them met.
More often than not, our own parents did not get their needs met. Therefore, they were unable to help us get our needs met too. This seems to be part of the human condition.
Infant (0-9 months).
Basic survival needs: shelter, food, protection, changing diapers.
Infants need unconditional love and warmth. They need to bond to their parents, particularly their mother. If the mother is there for the child, in every sense of that word, then the child bonded to the mother. If the bonding is built on mutual respect and valuing, it forms the blueprint out of which new relationships can be created.
What happens when the child gets his or hers dependency needs met?
The child then feels: I have hope. I can just be. I can trust you. I am you. (part of the baby, Mother bonding).
As adults with our infancy needs met, we naturally trust ourselves to
get our basic needs met and it is easy to form healthy relationships and our self esteem is good.
What happens when the infant doesn’t get these dependency needs met?
The bond between infant and mother is the foundation for all future relationships.
If the bond is not there to whatever degree, then the infant grows up believing he or she has no right to depend on anyone. This can develop into pathological relationships with food, drugs, sex, work and so on.
We are trying to fill our hole in our souls by external things. Unfortunately nothing we do here will ultimately satisfy us. This is when we need to forgive ourselves, our parents and up the love for ourselves.
This is the beginning of low self esteem. This is where it all comes from. When we don't get this primary need met, when the bond to our own Mother is damaged for whatever reason, we then grow up to suffer from low self esteem.
Toddler: 9 months to 18 months - the exploratory stage.
18 months to 3 years - the separation stage.
The need to explore and do. The need for healthy limits.
The need to separate from parents and have that be ok. The beginning of true independence.
What happens when we get our dependency needs met?
The child then feels I am me (part of the separation from parents, the terrible “2”,s). I have limits. I have willpower. I can be separate. I can be curious and explore and do.
When we grow up to be adults, we now have healthy limits and willpower. We can say no and mean it. We are naturally curious about life and do not hesitate to explore our world.
What can happen when we don’t get these needs met?
It’s not okay to be you. What you feel, do and think are wrong.
When we grow up to be adults, our now wounded inner child, acts out or acts in. Acting out may mean having addiction issues, taking no responsibility for one’s self, and being a people pleaser. Acting in may mean being critical and judgmental of yourself and others.
Again, even if we got the first need met as an infant, if for whatever reason we didn't get this need met, when we grow up we suffer from low self esteem.
Pre-school: 3yrs to 6 yrs
The need to ask why (there is so much to figure out).
The need to be independent. The need to be someone - I am a boy, I am a girl.
What happens when we get our dependency needs met? The child then feels I have purpose and value. I am someone. I can imagine and feel. I am independent.
As adults, we are okay with our individuality. We belong to ourselves. We are also independent of the good opinion of others.
What can happen when we don’t get these needs met?
A lack of individuality prohibits kids from feeling that they have the right to a life of their own.
This is the beginning of being responsible for other people’s feelings and behaviors as adults.
School age: 6 yrs to puberty.
Becoming competent. Enjoying the learning and knowing process.
Becoming interdependent and cooperative.
What happens when we get our needs met?
The child then says I have competence. I have limits. I can be skillful. I can think and learn. I am capable.
As an adult with these dependency needs met, we have confidence in who we are and what we are doing; we think for ourselves and learn when we need to plus are capable of having a life that works.
What can happen when we don’t get these needs met? We don’t feel okay as adults. Something is wrong with us. We don’t feel capable in our lives and we suffer from low self confidence. We also have a low sense of self worth or another way to put it, low self esteem.
Supporting our kids in getting their dependency needs met is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. First as parents we need to know what these dependency needs are at each stage of childhood development. Then we need to take a deeper look into our own lives, to see where we did not get our own needs met, and make the effort to do so. Once this is done, we can easily help our own children become happy, healthy, successful adults with high self esteem.