Meeting Emotional Needs

Students often learn about how people meet their basic needs for survival: water, food, clothing and shelter. But what about their emotional needs? What are they and how do people take care of them?


Various writers, including William Glasser, have described four basic needs:
1. belonging
2. achievement (competence or power)
3. choices (freedom)
4. fun (learning something new and useful)

Indigenous people of North America describe a circle of courage.  You can learn more HERE.

It is wise for us to pay attention to taking care of all of our needs and not stress one of them at the expense of others. Many problems tend to arise when we forget to take care of all four. Other problems appear when we try to take care of ourselves at the expense of others.

What are some ways you can meet your own emotional needs in healthy ways that do not hurt others?
1. a sense of belonging: Who are the people with whom you spend time? What are the places where you spend time?
2. achievement or recognition: What are you accomplished at doing? What do other people praise you for doing? What do you know you are skilled at doing?
3. choices: What parts of your day are determined by you? What hobbies or activities do you get to choose?
4. enjoyment and fun: What do you do purely for the joy of it? What helps you relax and forget about the time?
Now look at your answers. Do you live your life in a way that will cause you to become more mature or more immature? Do you live your life in a way that reflects your beliefs about life?

One way to look at novels is to analyse how the main characters take care of their emotional needs. How do they satisfy their need for belonging? What do they do that makes them feel competent? What choices do they have? What do they do for fun? And do they take care of themselves without hurting other people?

Sarah, in grade six, likes reading Geronimo Stilton books. They’re almost like graphic novels, full of illustrations and words written in different types of fonts and different colours. What does Geronimo do for fun? “He likes to curl up with a cup of hot cheddar and read a good book,” Sarah said. What makes him feel competent and powerful? “He runs a newspaper, The Rodent’s Gazette. He’s the publisher.” Does he have much freedom in life? “He’s afraid of everything,” Sarah said, “and so he’s scared to take advantage of the choices he has.” As for belonging, “in every book, he meets a female mouse but at the end, he doesn’t end up being with her.” Sarah likes these Geronimo Stilton books because they’re fun. “They’re easy to read and they make me laugh,” she said.

Matthew, in grade six, examined the character of Septimus Heap in the novel Magyk by Angie Sage. “Septimus gets his sense of achievement,” he said, “because he is the apprentice of a wizard! He has choice but not too much considering he is the apprentice of Marchia Overstrand! . . . Septimus has his fair share of fun since has has a dragon, magical powers, a room in the wizard tower, and his stepsister is heir to the throne!”

Chelsea, in grade six, wrote about the second book in the The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series by Ann Brashares. She said that all four girls belonged to each other. They all had choices: Lena to go to a painting school, Carmen to act in a play, Tibby to go to NYU and Bridget to go on an archaelogical dig in Turkey. They all met their needs for achievement, too: Lena did figure painting for the first time, Carmen got the lead role in a play, Tibby attended NYU and Bridget did a great job at the dig. Their needs for fun were fulfilled in what they chose to do and Tibby, in addition, had fun with her boyfriend in New York City.

Michael, in grade six, is reading the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale. Bobby, he said, get his sense of belonging from being part of his family, from knowing his mom and dad, sister and dog, all care for him. He gets his sense of achievement from begin “fairly good at schoolwork” and “very good at basketball” and from working to reach his goal of rescuing the people he loves, the planet and “lots of other planets, too.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *