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Protecting Our Children

Unfulfilled Needs in Children Often Have Warning Signs

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

“Schools across the country have children enrolled who, in their own way, are crying for help and are going unnoticed. Dr. Sharon Yoder, American Mothers, Inc., National Chairman of Education, says that they have unfulfilled needs.

Dr. Yoder goes on to say in The American Mother, Winter 2004, in her article “Seven Red Flags,” that all who come in contact with children should be aware of some of the common warning signs that indicate a child is unhappy and needs support, encouragement, and someone to listen to them unconditionally. Not fulfilling these needs can trigger violence or other bad choices. I submit that these unfulfilled needs can possibly trigger pornography addiction. Children and teens might possibly move into a fantasy world on the Internet and seek to find relief from the pain they feel in the real world.

Dr. Yoder lists the following warning signs:

  1. “Withdrawn or painfully shy children: If symptoms are overlooked by parents or teachers, a painfully shy child may begin to hide deeper and deeper within his or her own shelf. These children need a lot of praise and encouragement to do the things they do well. They may need someone to help them to be more outgoing and assertive.”
  2. “A child with no friends: These children do everything alone. They need someone to step in and help them make a friend or two. Being alone and lonely triggers frustration, anger, resentment, and sometimes aggressive behaviors.”
  3. “Behavior that reflects thoughts or actions pertaining to violence: Violence in writings and drawings reflect inner thoughts, feelings and desires. Actual threats of violence, especially if they are detailed or specific should be explored for negative and prejudicial attitudes. If a child is not encouraged to get his or her feelings out in the open and resolved, the bad feelings become magnified.”
  4. “Rumors of possession of weapons, self-injurious behaviors or threats of suicide: These behaviors should always be investigated.”
  5. “Suspicion of involvement in alcohol or drug use: This child needs intervention and guidance immediately. Someone needs to redirect the child's interests and energies before it is too late. This kind of behavior will not just go away.”
  6. “Signs of a child wearing the 'badge' of belonging to a gang: In some cases these are the children who are different, in many ways, from most of the other children. They may come from financially different backgrounds, different ethnic or religious backgrounds or with physical or mental handicaps. It hurts to be different. They may look and act like others, but inside they may be struggling to appear normal. These children need an extra dose of encouragement and friendship.”
  7. “Poor performance in the classroom or being the center of disciplinary problems: This behavior is another way of getting desperately needed attention. For some reason, the child is unable to get these needs met in a more acceptable way. He or she needs our full attention and unconditional caring and involvement. We must not give up or get tired of trying over and over because things do not appear to work. The best strategy is to discern what the need is and fill that need. They have real feelings, good ideas, opinions and unique areas of excellence that have yet to be discovered.”

Dr. Yoder concludes by saying that all warning signs need to be investigated for validity. She also says, “Children crying for help need help early.” Dr. Yoder encourages us to watch for additional signs of hurt and pain. Then she encourages all of us to share her article with others so that more children receive the help they need.

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