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Human Emotional Needs

List of Basic Human Emotional Needs

Top Ten Emotional Needs

Unmet Emotional Needs

Understanding Our Emotional Needs

Importance of Emotional Needs

Parenting and Emotional Needs

Daily Emotional Needs

Basic Human Emotional Needs

Here are some of the basic human emotional needs expressed as feelings. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food or more sleep.

One person may need more freedom and independence, another may need more security and social connections. When a person's natural emotional needs are met, healthy behavior naturally follows. (See note below about children, adolescents and schools.)

In various degrees, each according to his or her own unique nature, we each have a natural emotional need to feel:

approved of
believed in
cared about
clear (not confused)
in control
listened to
productive / useful
safe / secure
treated fairly

An earlier, longer list

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Children, Adolescents and Schools

One problem in typical schools is the treatment of all students as if their emotional and psychological needs were identical. The result is many needs are unsatisfied. For example, one child, or adolescent, may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding than is provided in traditional schools, while another is content to accept whatever is told to him.

Those with unmet emotional needs become frustrated, as any of us do when our needs are unmet. They can be expected to "act out" their frustration in various ways which are typically seen as "misbehavior." This is especially evident when children are expected to all do the same thing for the same length of time. The better we identify their unique needs and satisfy them, the fewer problems.

If a young person's emotional needs are significantly unmet, there is a much higher chance for them to have serious mental health problems, including depression and suicidal feelings, by the time they reach their teen years.

How this list was developed

This list was originally based on the work of Robert Myrick in his book, Caring and Sharing: Becoming a Peer Facilitator. (Here are notes from the book)

Note for those interested in personal growth work: Here are a few questions from an interesting little test of how well your emotional needs are being met.

See also the page on "Human Givens"


Importance of Emotional Needs

In Maslow's hierarchy most of the needs are actually emotional needs. As his famous triangle shows our physical needs are at the bottom. Once those are met our emotional needs become most important to us.

John Gottman, a respected psychologist and expert on couples also recognizes the importance of emotional needs in our relationships. Gottman says, as paraphrased by Australian therapist Peter Fox,

... people don’t get married, make friends, or try to maintain ties with siblings to have those relationships fail. Yet many fail because people don’t pay enough attention to the emotional needs of others.

Parenting and A Child's Needs

Here is a quote from John Bradshaw

As long as Mom and Dad satisfy their own needs through their own powers and with each other, they will not use their children to solve these needs.

Some Google search results on the term "meeting emotional needs"  
Daily Emotional Needs

In some countries they have labels on food telling you how much of your minimum daily requirements for a certain vitamin a certain food gives you. This made me wonder about our "daily emotional needs." Now I realize this is similar to our daily nutritional needs, but much less studied and discussed.

While searching "daily emotional needs" I found this. (I think we could substitute "resentment, pain and unmet emotional needs" for chutzpah as it is used here.)

If you're a mother or father of a teen:

The Rebbe always emphasised the benefits of positivity rather than being negative in
education. Teenagers blossom if they are loved unconditionally, praised and appreciated for their unique individuality. Parents know this on the rational level, but practically they do not behave likewise.

In times of stress, anger and tiredness parents forget the daily emotional needs of their child and teenager. It's natural and they are not blamed.

Teenagers hate when their parents are too busy, but expect obedience. Hence Chutzpah.

Teenagers hate doing chores if they know that mom will criticise every small detail. Hence Chutzpah. Teenagers detest when their parents pinpoint flaws in their child of which they themselves are guilty. Hence Chutzpah.

When you think about your child's chutzpah, think about your and your spouse's behaviour to your teenager first. Often, you can find the answer to your teenagers difficulty in your heart.

"kamayim hapanim el panim ken lev ha'adam le'adam" ("Like water reflects faces, so too, hearts of people").

Posted By Mrs. P. Levin