Self-Actualization is a lifelong process for all of us, learning by doing to achieve our individual potential. A child needs a sense of security to have the confidence to grow and develop by exploring, experimenting and taking chances.
When a child is secure in all the important ways, physical safety and support, social/emotional affection, intellectual and creative stimulation, then they have the foundation to achieve what we call self-actualization; or individual potential. This simply means becoming the best we can be as a creative, problem-solving, and moral person.
Some of us are much more verbal and outgoing than others, and some would much prefer to work on a math problem than deal with people problems; but as we develop a broader range of skills, we demonstrate a higher degree of poise and confidence. Poise and confidence are essentials of leadership, and the mark of successful people all over the world.
We are all on a continuing path toward self-actualization, since we are born with different characteristics and capabilities. We may also experiences different traumas; losing a parent too soon, or living in a shelter for a while, or maybe changing schools frequently because our parents move around. However if it’s clear that our parents care about us and are striving to ultimately make things right, then we are still likely to have an essential sense of security.
The sense of security we have, or don’t have, at critical stress points makes a huge difference to how well we learn in school, relate to our peers, teachers and other members of our community. Our ability to successfully negotiate the inevitable disruptions of life can be less or more, depending on whether we feel there are sufficient supports to minimize any feelings of insecurity.
As we enter our teen years, for example, we may lack some poise and confidence before we gain our social footing and feel comfortable dating or developing an intimate relationship. These are all natural variations on the same theme ‘practice makes perfect’. If we feel insecure in too many ways, it may do more than cramp our ability to develop meaningful relationships. This sequence actually plays out many times and in many ways over our lifetimes; so if we lack the sense of security need to take new steps and risks, then achieving our potential becomes much more difficult.
Some simple, but very powerful ways to build a sense of SECURITY include:
Make sure physical needs are taken care of, eating and sleeping on a regular schedule, for example, so your kids can rely on your caregiving.
Make time for play/physical activities, walking and talking together.
Be sure that there is enough right-kinds of food for good nutrition, if necessary take advantage of school programs, food banks and other services.
Use encouraging words, reinforcing her value by saying ‘you’re lookin’ good,’ ‘you’re pretty,’ ‘you’re special’; and praise what they do, ‘you almost got it,’ ‘try again’, ‘try doing it a different way’.
Be physically affectionate, touching, hugging, children sitting on laps to read or just talk.
Watch for nonverbal cues, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, eye contact that’s either positive or negative.
Proudly introduce your children to neighbors, friends, other children.
Help them try new things, and work at it until they’re successful.
Check out your local library, free museum days, and community events that provide opportunities for social, intellectual, and creative stimulation.