As a parent, teacher, and former therapeudic counselor I have come to believe that one of the most important components of raising, developing, or helping children grow with emotional stability, is to provide as much consistency and stability as possible in interactions with them. This can be practiced in many simple ways:
- consistent daily schedule
- consistent and clear boundaries
- consistency in rule enforcement and discipline
- consistent relational balance (consistency in marriage and extended family relationships)
- consistent (yet growing age-appropriately) expectations
One thing I think is essential is that the child have at least one person in his or her life who can be counted on. Children have a fundamental need for security, and a big part of that is have a stable, predictable person available.
In order to create that stable center, teachers should always be honest (in an age-appropriate way, of course) with students. A teacher should never make a promise that he or she can't keep, and should avoid idle threats. Teachers need to make time for individual conversation with every student, even if it is only a few words. Every student wants contact, even those who seem to avoid it.
One of the highest compliments I ever got from a student was when I was told "You see everyone, even those who don't want to be seen." While I was pleased to hear it, the comment also made me sad; shouldn't this be the norm?
I think that there are many approaches to this question. Working to satisfy the emotional needs of children is both essential to a nation's future and also pressing in this day and setting. Advocating for the needs of children is essential in order for any progress to be made in their own lives and in the betterment of others. I think that one specific way in which children's emotional needs can be met is through social work. The more qualified social workers that are out there advocating for children's needs, helping them endure the various traumas of their state of being in the world, and teaching them coping skills that can help turn moments of crisis into instances of redemption is one approach to helping children. I think that social work is something that is both rigorous and a domain whereby children's emotional needs are met. I believe that another way that children's emotional needs can be met would be for adults to embrace the power and impact they have in a child's life. Given so many instances where adults have represented miscarriages of advocacy in turning trust into self- interested manipulation, children are rightfully more skeptical now of adults than ever before. This situation where there is little trust between children and adults represents a watershed moment where this bond has to be restored. This can only happen when adults seize the opportunity and initiative and understand the role they have in helping children through the various challenges of childhood and adolescence. It is imperative for every child to be able to instantly recognize and know two to three adults who are trustworthy, honorable, and will advocate for a child's emotional needs. When children cannot identify adults who will stand up for a child's emotional needs, a terrible crisis results, one that only spell more trauma for children and a gradual breakdown of how social orders function effectively. In recognizing their role as "role models" and upholding this capacity with honor and courage, I think that adults can go very far in helping children from an emotional point of view.