Smiling young toddler eating breakfast

Our 5 Core Needs – for both Children and Adults!

As human beings we have core needs to survive, grow and thrive. Some core needs we are born with, some we develop. As individuals we needs these things in varying amounts – some people will need more of one than another person. We work in ways to have our needs met, so that we are fulfilled.

So what are these Core Needs? They are:


Love and Belonging;


Power; and


Let’s look in more detail…

Survival – this is our most basic need, which we are born with, and which is essential for our human life to exist. Survival includes the basics of air, food, warmth, shelter and water. If we don’t have these, we don’t continue to live for very long. We can only live for a few minutes without air, and a few days without water. This core need stays with us all our life, regardless of where we are, or whatever we are doing.

Love and Belonging – this is our urge for a sense of ‘connection’. We belong to many groups – our family unit; our sibling relationship; our friendships; our school; our local area and also to various specialized groups such as sporting clubs, churches, art groups, or stamp collecting groups. Within each of these associations we feel that we ‘belong’ because the people there usually understand as us we have shared beliefs, values or interests. In some groups there is a sense of friendship or camaraderie, and in others there is love – between friends, partners, cousins etc.

Fun – as humans we have an urge to have fun. As children this maybe playing with toys, being tickled by Mum or Dad and laughing with our friends. As adults we do different things for fun – it may be going for a jog, or catching up with friends over coffee or a meal; it might be having a family picnic or celebrating Christmas together. We may do some ‘fun’ things regularly eg weekly catch-ups on Friday night, or we may vary the fun – a picnic this weekend and time at the movies next weekend. When we have fun in our life and relationships we are actually filling our own need for emotional connection with others, and self.

Power – there are 3 types of power. There is Power Over – when we direct people, or are the boss. This may be in a work capacity – directing staff, or like as parent who teaches and then expects the child to follow the rules or systems. There is also Power With – this is the power we feel when we have knowledge. Remember the feeling when you mastered riding a two-wheeler bike, or learnt how to tie your shoelaces – that’s Power With. With knowledge there is power! The third type is Power Within. This when you learn to manipulate or utilize the world around you to achieve what you want eg you know that asking Mum one way whether she will drive you to the shops will lead to a Yes, and asking a different way will lead to a No. It’s the power you feel when you are gaining mastery over a skill, because you know ‘what’ to do, and are now practicing – just like when you were learning to drive a car.

Freedom – our urge for freedom is about opportunities, options and choices. We want the freedom to be able to fulfill our other needs. We want as much freedom as we can responsibly handle – children will often test the boundaries of that, to ascertain where that ‘line in the sand’ is.


Children and adults move through phases of their life where different urges are stronger eg we may crave more ‘Love and Belonging’ at times, and desire less ‘Freedom’’ and there will be other times when our need for ‘Power’ will be more strong. Our basic urge for ‘Survival’ needs is always present.

Our role as parents is to support and encourage our children as they learn to meet their own needs. It is equally important to support our children when they crave ‘Love and Belonging’, as well as when they crave “Power’. It is our job to assist and nurture them to use all these skills wisely, in order to grow into well rounded citizens of the world.

Happy Parenting!