Kids are a great source of information and entertainment. For over 20 years Art Linkletter hosted a television program called Art Linkletter's House Party. During the show he had a regular program segment where he would interview kids. The kids responded to his questions with some of the most remarkable improvisational humor that Linkletter's assertion "kids say the darndest things" became a popular catchphrase.
I find kids to be a tremendous source of creativity, enthusiasm, curiosity and humor plus they are a fascinating laboratory for observing human behavior. My wife and I have experienced this firsthand for the past 30 weeks or so. We have been working with children ages 2 to 10. Out of this experience I have observed at least 4 things that these kids want and I believe every adult wants and needs. They are attention, affirmation, approval and affection.
We all know kids want attention. If we don't give it to them voluntarily they will resort to some other behavior in order to get it. Crying is the default followed by whining, complaining or some other attention grabbing behavior. Quite frankly not much changes as one becomes an adult except maybe crying is replaced by pouting or withdrawal. In any event everyone wants attention and that is not a bad thing. We think it means someone is too self-centered but in the majority of instances it is a need for acceptance.
Affirmation is something a child wants and is necessary in order to build self esteem and confidence. Often a parent will focus on a B+ as falling short of an A, rather then celebrating the B+ and encouraging that the A is within reach. As kids grow their bodies reach that awkward, gangly phase. Arms become too long or short, feet are too big and coordination is lacking. When this happens constant reassuring is necessary. Kids need to know that these adjustments are normal and one day things will assume their proper proportion and functionality. In the meantime try not to freak out.
Kids want to know that their actions meet the approval of the people they love and respect the most. Asking to stay out late or go to a movie with friends is permission not approval. Approval is the assurance that you care and are concerned with outcomes.
Lastly, there is a strong need for affection. Kids want to know they are loved. Why? It affirms who they are and provides a solid foundation should they fail. Of course, they will because that is part of growing up. Kids that are loved don't think about failing. It is no big deal and they get over it quickly.
You have heard it said there is a kid inside each of us. If that is true then we too desire attention, want affirmation, need approval and affection. These all have one thing in common. They can't be achieved by us. They must be given to us by someone else.