Core Childhood Needs: Stability

Updated: Apr 1


Stability is closely related to a sense of safety for children. If there is a routine and a stable environment, children will develop a sense of predictability and certainty for their future.

In contrast, if there are frequent and significant environmental changes, the unpredictability can foster anxiety, helplessness, confusion, and feelings of being lost or frozen.


This can lead to outward behaviours of withdrawal, rebellion, lack of impulse control and anger outbursts. Instability can include frequent changes in family dynamics (e.g. divorce, change of partners, foster families), physical environment (e.g. location, homes, schools, cities), financial circumstances or social environment. Children may find it challenging to form relationships if they fear they will lose them, resulting in attachment issues.


So what can we do as adults to help to fulfill the need for stability in our children? Here are a few ideas:

· Provide routines for children that can help them feel stable even when other circumstances are changing

· Ensure children have items that are consistent in their lives and convey familiarity and comfort

· Support children in maintaining positive, consistent relationships even when external circumstances change

· Ensure discipline and nurture are both consistent and appropriate

· Discuss issues in stability openly in an age-appropriate way and listen to the child’s needs and fears


Fulfilling our children’s need for stability will help them to experience predictability and reduce fear of loss or upcoming stress. The need for stability remains relevant for us as adults. In particular, a continuously unpredictable environment is a key contributor to overwhelming anxiety and stress. It keeps our bodies in a constant state of heightened awareness, quickly leading to fatigue, burnout and even physical illness.


Sometimes, if we grew up with instability, we may find that theme to follow us into adulthood. However, regardless of our childhood, with the right tools, we are able to meet this need in adulthood without letting the past control us. The way we would treat children now, is the way we can also nurture our own inner child.


To find out more about how to help your children feel stable or to successfully meet your own need of stability, book a consultation with psychologist in Hong Kong Dr. Terrighena on (852) 2715 4577 or e.terrighena@mind-balance.org.

Dr Esslin Terrighena - Psychologist in Hong Kong

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