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Understanding Children's Needs: Part 1 - The Importance of Structure

Welcome to the first instalment of our three-part series on children's fundamental needs. As a positive parenting coach, I'm excited to delve into the fundamental pillars of children's needs: structure, autonomy/choice, and connection. As parents, caregivers, and educators, understanding these needs is pivotal in fostering their holistic development. Today, we're shining a spotlight on the indispensable role of structure in a child's life.

Structure provides the scaffolding upon which children build their understanding of the world. It offers predictability, consistency, and a sense of security that fosters emotional well-being and growth. Let's explore why structure is so vital and how we can implement it effectively in our parenting.

Understanding the Need for Structure

collage of a boat on a sea

Imagine a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly at sea. Similarly, children without structure may feel adrift, lacking direction and guidance. Structure provides the framework within which children can thrive, offering clear boundaries and routines that help them navigate daily life.

Children crave routine and predictability. Knowing what to expect brings a sense of comfort and security, reducing anxiety and promoting feelings of safety. Whether it's a regular bedtime routine or a consistent schedule for meals and activities, structure provides the stability that children need to feel grounded.

Examples of Structure in Action

image of young child brushing their teeth

1. Daily Routines: Establishing consistent daily routines helps children know what to expect and what is expected of them. A morning routine might include waking up at a set time, getting dressed, and having breakfast before starting the day. Similarly, a bedtime routine could involve brushing teeth, reading a story, and winding down before sleep. If you want to know more about how to build routines in a way that is fun and engaging, you're going to want to check out my blog post here.

2. Clear Expectations: Setting clear expectations helps children understand boundaries and limits. Whether it's completing homework before playtime or tidying up toys before bedtime, clearly outlining expectations reinforces structure and encourages responsible behaviour. We really want to be thinking preventatively here. So use family meetings to agree on those expectations together, and then make sure you have them written down.

3. Consistent Rules: Consistency is key when it comes to enforcing rules. Establishing a set of consistent rules and knowing in advance how you are going to follow through when your child doesn't stick to the agreement (SPOILER alert: this is going to happen, LOTS!!) are critical to success. AND really hard. However, they're both essential in promoting accountability, and raising autonomous, capable young people. For example, if screen time is limited to one hour per day, enforcing this rule consistently reinforces the structure and encourages healthy habits. If following through is something you're struggling with, then book a chat - I can help.

4. Organised Environment: A tidy and organised environment contributes to a sense of structure. Encouraging children to keep their belongings in designated places fosters a sense of orderliness and reduces chaos. Whether it's arranging toys in bins or keeping school supplies neatly stored, an organised environment promotes a sense of calm and control.

5. Family Meetings: Regular family meetings provide an opportunity to discuss upcoming events, address concerns, and establish plans together. Involving children in decision-making promotes a sense of ownership and empowerment, while also reinforcing the importance of structure and communication within the family unit.


In conclusion, structure is a fundamental need that provides the framework for a child's healthy development. By offering routines, clear expectations, consistent rules, and opportunities for involvement, parents can create an environment that fosters security, confidence, and emotional well-being.

In the next instalment of our series, we'll explore another essential element of children's needs: autonomy and choice. Stay tuned for valuable insights and practical tips on empowering children to make choices and cultivate independence within a supportive framework.

Remember, by understanding and meeting our children's needs, we can empower them to thrive and reach their full potential.

Until next time, happy parenting!


Positive Parenting Coach

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A brilliant reminder that I need to structure my 6 year old's life (and MINE!) a little better. Loving the idea of the family meetings. He is definitely old enough to get involved now. This blog post came at the right moment. So helpful as usual. Thanks Laura!

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Thank you so much for the encouragement! I'm glad the post was helpful. If you need any help in putting family meetings in place, please do ask!

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