Signs You’re Not Meeting Your Child’s Needs

Signs that you’re not meeting your child’s needs include erratic behaviors, changes in appetite, sleeping problems, difficulties at school, and an inability to concentrate.

This article will take a closer look at these signs; what they can look like, and what might be behind them.

So let’s make a start, what are the erratic behaviors associated with not meeting your child’s needs?

What are erratic behaviors?

child erratic behavior

A child’s behavior is considered erratic if it’s completely out of character, mostly unexpected, and quite illogical.

To your child, however, it is none of these things. Rather, whatever they are doing often has a clear and useful function: to express how they feel, and experts agree that these expressions can often (but not always) be the result of unmet needs.

Examples of changed behaviors include:

  • Hurting other adults and/ or children
  • Damaging objects
  • Excessive anger when they don’t get their own way
  • Defiance
  • Running away
  • Refusing to eat
  • Long periods of withdrawal

Examples of what these behaviors might really mean include:

  • Low (or very few) skills in expressing feelings. This means your child may need opportunities to practice.
  • Low (or very few) skills in communicating needs. Your child may need modeling to show how this can be done.
  • Little (or no) experience in cooperating or sharing with others. Your child may need opportunities to exercise poor social skills.
  • Your child may be struggling with frustration or fear and may need your guidance to deal with it.
  • Your child may be tired or physically unwell.
  • Little (or no) experience in dealing with certain life events. This means your child simply needs you to be with them, whether they can talk about it or not.

Is it possible to meet all my child’s needs all of the time?

mom talking to child

The expert’s answer to this question is that we just have to try. We can’t get it right all the time, and we can only get it right by heeding advice from others, or by making mistakes in the first place.

It is agreed that the best way to meet as many of your child’s needs as possible is to know what these needs are. Listening to your child is one of the biggest examples of this.

Remember too, that your child’s needs do not stay the same, and that your skill at meeting their needs will grow and evolve over time.

Where can I get help in trying to meet my child’s needs?

mom talking to doctor

If you feel like you are not meeting your child’s needs then you need to ask for help. This is not always easy.

Feelings of shame and failure will often prevent families from sharing their experiences or from reaching out for support. However, there are many resources out there. to talk to

For example, resources can include, but are not limited to:

  • Friends and family
  • Neighborhood chat groups
  • Kindergarten and school groups
  • Your local library
  • Your local health or medical center
  • Online support and information
  • Teachers

Why do other parents always look as though they know what they’re doing?

This is because we all naturally strive to show our best selves. However, it is more than likely that if you’re worried that you’re not meeting your child’s needs, so is anyone else.

Unfortunately, anxiety over meeting our child’s needs, which can strike at any time, continues to afflict parents of all ages, including those with adult children who all left home decades ago.

Will I always worry that I’m not meeting my child’s needs?

mom worry

Most likely yes. But think about it, if you are always questioning whether or not you are meeting your child’s needs, then at least it is always at the forefront of your mind. That is a sign of a good parent!

Unfortunately, children’s needs are constantly changing, and this is because they are constantly growing. In other words, it is natural.

It is only in retrospect that we can reconsider our children’s needs and recognize where we met them and when we missed them.

And this is because we, like our children, are learning as we go.

How do I best support my children and their developing needs?

mom supporting child

The most powerful way to support your children’s needs is to listen to them. Make time to do this every day, and never skimp on it.

Encouraging your child to ‘say it out loud’ strengthens their self-esteem and their ability to communicate their needs.

Children who are given a voice develop strong emotional muscles; this gives them the skills to not only better communicate their own needs, but to begin meeting them as well.

Children are extraordinarily forgiving. An apology from an adult is a powerful gift; it allows for mistakes and gives value to error.

Allowing mistakes into your parenting agenda is crucial for discovering and recognizing the signs of your child’s unmet needs.


The signs that you are not meeting your child’s needs can range from definite behavior changes to subtle shifts in mood. Reading these signs is difficult, and the ability to interpret them only comes with experience.

The parent-child relationship is a challenging and organic one. It is constantly evolving, so you need to ‘roll with the punches’ so to speak.

You should always question whether or not you are meeting the emotional needs of your child and if you are providing the right level of emotional support as they grow.

Help your child emotionally, and they will have better mental health.

Good luck!

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