In 1943, humanistic psychologist, Abraham Maslow introduced his “Hierarchy of Needs” theory, which states that humans have five levels of needs that must be met in order for a person to be self-actualized. Self-actualization is the highest form of achievement in Maslow’s framework, and occurs when a person is realizing their fullest potential. However, before said person can become actualized, he must first meet the lower-level needs, which are:
Level 1: Basic Physiological Needs – Food, Water, Air, Warmth, Rest
Level 2: Safety Needs – Security, Physical Safety
Level 3: Belongingness and Love Needs – Love Relationships, Friends
Level 4: Esteem Needs – Prestige, Feelings of Accomplishment
Only after these preliminary needs are met can a person move on toward self-actualization. Hence, most of us are not fully actualized, but, instead, somewhere along the journey.
Luckily, even if we aren’t fully there yet ourselves, we can still encourage our children to grow toward actualization from an early age. So, in order to do that, let’s first look at some of the personality characteristics of the actualized adult. According to Maslow:
- “They perceive and understand human nature. They accept themselves, other people, circumstances and the natural world for what they are. They are able to learn from anyone and are friendly with anyone, with no regard to stereotypes.
- They are emotionally intelligent and feel no need for crippling guilt or shame. They tend to be serene, characterized by a lack of worry. They are self starters, are responsible for themselves, and own their behavior. Work becomes play and desires are in excellent accord with reason.
- They have a great deal of spontaneity and have no unnecessary inhibitions.
- They are autonomous and independent. Thoughts and impulses are unhampered by convention. Their ethics are autonomous and they determine their own inner moral standards.
- They seek wholeness; they are able to merge opposing views into a third, higher synthesis, as though the two have united; therefore, opposite forces are no longer felt as conflict. Self-actualizing people retain their childlike qualities and yet have a far-seeing wisdom.
- Their intimate relationships with specially loved people tend to be profound, sincere and long-lasting, rather than superficial.
- Self-actualizing individuals are motivated to continual growth. They are also aware of their primary goals in life and are devoted to fulfilling them, both for their own benefit and as service to others.”
As far off as some of these goals may sound, especially on days when your child is doing his best Honest Toddler impersonation, they are still worthy aspirations to keep in mind. And, according to experts, like us, raising one of these children requires only three things:
- A commitment to providing a healthy, safe environment,
- Consistency in parenting, (for the most part- no one is perfect)
- Providing your child with opportunities to express his or her feelings, and be validated.
Really! That’s it! If you can commit to doing these three things, your child will be in an excellent position to learn all of those amazing qualities listed above, and join other people on the journey to self-actualization. We would love to help you raise your little self-actualized human! Contact us for more support. We are here to help!