Affection. Affirmation. Appreciation. Approval. Attention.
These are the basic needs of a child for proper and healthy psychological development.
Are you giving the “5 A’s” to yourself or are you demanding them from others?
I’m not sure if the concept of the “5 A’s” that I learned at the Reparenting the Child Within workshop was coined by the facilitator, or if it’s something that’s referenced from an expert in the field. I can’t remember.
What I clearly remember is learning the concept of the “5 A’s” 14 years ago. And it has stayed with me and has helped me, not only in understanding my childhood wounding, but in addressing them and healing myself — and as is the workshop title, in reparenting the [my] child within. It has also helped me in understanding other people’s [mis]behaviors and extending compassion.
When one of these needs is not met, it automatically results in the child’s wounding. The severity of the wounding depends on the extent to which the child was deprived of the basic need/s.
There’s so much more to parenting than simply providing food, shelter, clothing and education. There certainly is more to mothering than bearing a child in the womb or giving birth to a baby. And there’s more to fathering than being a provider.
The “5 A’s” are the basic needs that shape the child’s psychological make-up. And it is no one else’s responsibility but the parents’ to provide for and to ensure that these basic needs of their children are met.
There are also other individuals and groups with whom the child interacts, which also impact and affect how these basic needs are met, or not. And these include school and church authorities, other caregivers such as nannies, godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, other relatives. Pretty much every significant adult in a child’s life or any adult that the child interacts with. And again, when the manner that the child receives the “5 A’s” from these people is distorted or unhealthy, or when the needs are negated by other people, the responsibility to correct and address it goes back to the child’s parents.
When the child or adolescent is not affirmed, approved, given attention, appreciated or shown affection, it manifests later in the child’s adult years as core issues. It impacts and affects the individual’s relationships — with the self and with others.
Perfectionism and workaholism
I am a recovering perfectionist. Super perfectionist.
I realized that my perfectionism was my way of getting the approval that I didn’t receive. When I excel in something, when I stand out, when I don’t make any mistakes or commit any errors, I am unconsciously declaring, “See, I’m really very good.” Underneath that though is self-doubt – am I [really] good enough?
I’ve become aware that I’ve spent my life proving how good I am, seeking for validation and affirmation. I became a workaholic as a way to channel my frustrations and deep-seated hurts. It was also my way of constantly showing not only how good but how outstanding I am — to be different, to stand out from the rest, to get the attention.
I’m the third among five children — the one that got the least attention. My brother came after me, the only boy, the one that had the “right” gender. So yes, the middle child syndrome quite fits me to a T “perfectly”! 😉
I needed to be praised. It was a way for me to be affirmed.
I needed the accolade to be validated. When I’m congratulated for a job well done, I’m getting the attention that I’m unconsciously seeking.
All these in order to fill in my unmet needs when I was a child.
No wonder I was striving to get an A in school and anywhere else thereafter. It was because I didn’t receive any of the “5 A’s”! 🙂 I can only chuckle now at the conclusions I’ve arrived at, the decisions and choices I’ve made, and the actions I’ve taken, from all the not too pleasant events in my life… 🙂
And these are just some of the ways that my unresolved childhood wound has shown up in my adult life.
When I exhibit any of the following behaviors which I also already listed in my earlier posts, such as, feeling responsible for my parents’ and siblings’ well-being, or anyone else’s for that matter (aka, feeling like everyone’s caretaker), fear of intimacy, fear of commitment, addiction, passive-aggressive behavior, people-pleasing, co-dependency, bullying, mistrust or overly trusting, lack of boundaries — it is my wounded inner child seeking for the affirmation, approval, attention, appreciation, or affection that she didn’t receive growing up.
And I may be able to get the “5 A’s” when I exhibit these unhealthy or destructive behaviors, but it isn’t the healthy way to meet my needs, or to make up for lost times. In fact, I’ve learned that if I seek any of the “5 A’s” from others or from outside of myself, I only perpetuate my issues and prolong the cycle.
Breaking the pattern
Yet I can break the cycle. I can stop my pattern of destructive or unhealthy behavior.
By letting the adult Nadine give to the little Nadine all the “5 A’s.” Not from other people. Not through other means.
By loving myself ceaselessly and through constant self-care.
By giving my little Nadine the chance to experience what she didn’t.
By giving her permission and the freedom to be a playful, cheerful child.
When I do any of these, I slowly drown out and silence the voice in me, that of my father or mother, saying things like, “You’re a bad girl!”, “Don’t do that!”, “Shut up!”
And these are only some of the endless ways that I’m giving permission to my little Nadine to express herself. To experience the kind of childhood she didn’t which she rightfully deserves. It is how I am able to transform my wounded inner child to a wonder child.
It’s how I stop passing on my toxicity to others.
It’s how I heal my childhood wounding.
It’s how I nurture my little Nadine.
And it’s how I am able to reparent the child within.
And I give myself not an “A”, but an “A+” for giving myself the “5 A’s”! 🙂
- Nurturing the Inner Child: How I paid homage to the Divine Child
- The synchronistic events that led me to my inner child
- Reparenting the Child Within Workshop: Meeting my inner child for the first time, Part 1
- Reparenting the Child Within Workshop: Meeting my inner child for the first time, Part 2
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