Self-Actualization is a lifelong process for all of us ? learning by doing to achieve our individual potential.
When a child is secure in all the important ways ? physical safety and support, social/emotional affection, intellectual and creative stimulation ? then they are on the road to what we call self-actualization; or achieving 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 other skills as well, we experience a high degree of poise and confidence. Poise and confidence are the first essentials of leadership, and the mark of successful people all over the world.
Most of us are still on a continuum toward self-actualization, since we are born with different characteristics and capabilities. We may experiences trauma by losing a parent too soon, or living in a shelter for a little while, or maybe changing schools a lot because our parents move around; but if it?s clear that our parents care about us and will ultimately make things right, then we still have a positive outlook on life.
The support we have, or don?t have, at such critical points makes a huge difference in how well we learn in school, or perform our jobs at work; and the disruption can be less or more, depending on whether there are sufficient supports to mitigate the damage.
As we enter our teen years, for example, we may fall back on earlier stages 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 ? but if we are too insecure in too many ways, it may do more than cramp our style with the opposite sex. This sequence actually plays out many times and in many ways over our lifetimes; so if any of the foregoing steps fail for very long, then achieving our best potential becomes much less likely.
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 ? 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, 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.