What Are the 10 Things Every Child Needs?

Medically Reviewed on 1/31/2022

Quality time

Spending a lot of quality time with your children gives you the chance to meet their needs and discover who they are. While everyone is busy these days, you can spend quality time with your kids doing everyday activities. Here are some ways you can make more time for your kids: 

  • Include your child in projects around the house
  • Cook with your kids
  • Walk with your children instead of driving when you can
  • Read with your children
  • Let your children help with chores
  • Take up a hobby with your child 


Children need security. They need to feel safe and sound and have their basic needs met. More brain development happens in the first three years than any other time. If a child's basic needs aren't met during that time, it can have life-long consequences. Difficulties like substance abuse and poverty that interfere with basic needs being met can rewire a child's brain. 


Physical touch helps babies sleep better and supports their brain development. A study that followed 500 infants until they were in their 30s found that babies whose mothers were the most affectionate were less likely to grow up to be anxious, emotionally distressed, or hostile. This may be because physical affection releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is important in building social bonds. Children with higher levels of oxytocin may be primed for better social interactions and relationships in the future. 

Emotional support

Children need emotional support because they don't yet have the skills to cope with their own emotions. They need your help to learn how to self-regulate. One way you can do that is to model it for your children. When you're feeling frustrated, sad, or angry, label your emotions and show your child how to deal with them in a constructive way. 

Another helpful way of providing emotional support for your child is by helping them notice their emotions earlier before they become overwhelming. Encourage your child to rank their emotions on a scale of 1 to 10 and start dealing with them before they get out of hand. 


A good education opens doors for children. It teaches them to develop critical and logical thinking skills. Better education leads to a better job and increased earning potential. Higher levels of education are also associated with living a longer, healthier life. 


Structure and routines help children thrive. Children do best when they know what to expect. Providing a consistent routine for your child provides the following benefits:

  • Enhanced brain development, which helps children read, think, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Increased independence in their daily routine
  • Better coping skills because they feel more security and consistency
  • Time management skills
  • Healthy habits
  • Responsible behavior

Health care 

All children need access to high-quality health and dental care. Children are at an increased risk of developing preventable diseases and conditions without access to good-quality health care. Good health care affects children's physical and emotional health, growth, and development, and their ability to reach their full potential as adults. Good dental care is just as important because oral diseases can lead to serious general health problems. 

Good role models

Children look to role models to figure out how to behave in school, in social situations, and in life. They copy the behavior, appearance, and habits of their role models. Role models can be positive or negative. Here are some ways to encourage your children to look to positive role models: 

  • Encourage your child to become involved in activities that reflect your values
  • Talk to your child about the traits of positive role models
  • Let your child know they can copy some behaviors of their role models without copying all of them
  • Remind your child that all people make good and bad choices and that it's important to learn from your mistakes


Helping your children feel good about themselves will help them feel more confident trying new things. They can cope with mistakes and try again when things go wrong. They're more likely to succeed in school, at home, and with friends. Help your child develop high self-esteem by doing the following: 

  • Teach them how to do things
  • Praise their effort not the result
  • Don't harshly criticize
  • Focus on their strengths
  • Let them help others
  • Model the behaviors you want to see


Play is essential to a child's emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development. Through play, children can create worlds that they can control and conquer. They can try on adult roles and learn to collaborate. Play lets children develop confidence and resiliency. By playing with other children, they learn to work in groups, which helps them learn to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and advocate for themselves. 


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Medically Reviewed on 1/31/2022

Children's Hospital Colorado: "Taking Advantage of Quality Family Time."

Healthy Beginnings: "Focus on Infant and Child Mental Health; When a child’s needs are not met, consequences can last a lifetime."

Duke Global Health Institute: "Study Finds Mother's Affection at Infancy Predicts Emotional Distress in Adulthood."

Child Mind Institute: "Helping Kids Deal With Big Emotions."

Pennsylvania State University: "Pennsylvania’s Best Investment: The Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education."


Edmunds M, Coye MJ. National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Children, Health Insurance, and Access to Care. National Academies Press. 1998.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: "Role Models and Children."

KidsHealth: "Your Child's Self-Esteem."

Pediatrics: "The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds."