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Maslow's theory of human needs and child development

There are many theories about healthy development and how to care for young children. One of of these particular development models is Maslow's theory of human needs. Originally based upon five key hierarchical stages created by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, these stages help parents and teachers understand how to best take care of young children and their specific needs.

The five stages are typically shown as a pyramid. On the base level, biological and physiological needs must first be met before the children can advance to any other level. Some of these needs include basic rights such as food, drink, warmth, shelter, and sleep. For example, if children are hungry or tired, they have a far more difficult time concentrating on more complex situations. This is why it is wise to attend to these requirements first, before encouraging them to play, listen to a story, complete work, or engage in other activities.

Safety is the second stage and deals with the need for stability, security, protection, and freedom from fear. Once a child's initial needs are met, they may be more aware of their additional needs in this stage. This awareness manifests itself in areas such as separation anxiety or uncertainty about new activities.

The next, love and belongingness, deals with affection, love, and friendship. Here, children will be able to make friends or connect with their loved ones at home. Furthermore, the fourth stage, esteem, revolves around children's needs to gain independence, self-respect or achievements. This is where children benefit from being praised for their work or being able to accomplish something on their own, like tie their shoes or eat their snack.

Finally, self-actualization is more complicated and difficult for very young children to reach. This deals with realization of personal potential or self-fulfillment. This develops over time and deals with a sense of contentment with one's self and situation, which is challenging for young children to comprehend.

At ProSolutions Training, we offer online child care courses, such as "Understanding Child Development: Maslow's Theory of Human Needs," for interested professionals wanting to learn more about their field.