Core Childhood Needs: Nurture

Updated: Apr 1


Nurture in childhood can build the foundation of how children experience, give and receive love, nurture, warmth, trust and compassion in relationships. Children who have caregivers in their lives who are consistently available physically and emotionally to show care, attention and meet their needs, are likely to achieve healthy attachment in later friendships, intimate connections and work relationships. Moreover, they are likely to develop resilient emotion regulation and self-soothing strategies.


Children who fail to have their needs for nurture met may develop attachments that are over-shadowed by anxiety: fear of loss, abandonment, rejection, mistrust in the other person’s intentions, a sense of not being worthy or lovable. They may experience intense emotions, mood swings, and difficulties regulating these leading to dysfunctional coping styles, such as addiction, self-harm or violence.


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

· Assure children that they are loved and valued

· Schedule in quality time with children to create shared experiences

· Ensure you are available when children want to speak about their feelings, thoughts or needs

· Be respectful and acknowledge children’s preferences and needs, even if they cannot have what they want in the particular circumstance

· Use active listening skills with your children so they know you are attentive and responsive to what they are sharing of their internal world

· Use empathy and compassion to make children feel understood and supported



Fulfilling our children’s need for nurture can help them to develop into balanced adults who are able to manage their emotions, self-soothe appropriately, show compassion and kindness to others, feel worthy and loved, and embrace life with trust and enthusiasm.


The need for nurture remains relevant for us as adults. In particular, if we did not have this need met as children, we may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, depression and anxiety. Often, this is closely associated with a sense of not being good enough, not been lovable, or something being fundamentally wrong with us. 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 nurtured or to successfully meet your own need of nurture, 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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