9 things kids actually need while everything else is just extra

Wondering what exactly kids really need as opposed to just want? It probably isn't what you'd expect.

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  • What do kids really need? It isn't sugary sweets or the latest fashions or the coolest toys. It isn't a fancy car, trips to Europe or their very own horse. It isn't bad to have these things, but kids can survive without them. There are some things, though, that impact kids on a basic level, fulfilling essential needs that all kids have.

  • Be sure to give your kids these nine essential things.

  • Dirt

  • Did you know dirt is good for kids? In fact, "When we let our kids play in dirt we're exposing them to healthy bacteria, parasites and viruses that will inevitably create a much stronger immune system," says the National Wildlife Federation. Kids with weak immune systems are more likely to develop asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Plus, there's something satisfying about interacting with nature on such a personal level. So put the moist towelettes down and stock up on laundry detergent. It's time to make some mud pies.

  • A 'lovey'

  • All children have a "first love" after their parents. In child-rearing circles, this is known as a "lovey." It might be a fuzzy blanket, a pacifier, a thumb or a stuffed animal, and it serves to comfort kids when they feel insecure. The Baby Sleep Site says, "A lovey becomes a comfortable, familiar object that can serve to instantly soothe your baby or toddler. This is especially great when you're out and about, or when you're traveling."

  • You likely won't have much say over what the lovey is, and you'll be surprised what kinds of objects kids latch onto. Whatever the lovey is make sure not to lose it, for hell hath no fury like a toddler whose lovey goes missing.

  • A favorite book

  • Dog-eared corners and memorized with pencil marks on a few pages and grubby fingerprints on the illustrations, there's nothing quite like a favorite book. Kids love the familiarity of a story they know well. These early experiences with books influence how children view reading for the rest of their lives. Yes, you'll eventually be able to recite the book from memory, but take it as a good sign that your child is forming positive associations with literacy and learning.

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  • A song

  • Children have the wonderful knack of being able to sing like no one else is listening, whether they are, in fact, alone, or standing at the head of a long checkout line at the grocery store. It's a skill adults would do better to cultivate. Encourage kids in their singing. An enjoyment of music can bring much joy to a child's life, besides giving him or her an outlet to express himself or herself when normal speech fails him or her.

  • A friend

  • Kids need to associate with more people than just their parents. It's what helps them learn how to socialize with those outside their immediate family. A friend is someone a child can confide in, play with, pretend with in a different way than her or she can with his or her parents.

  • Education.com explained the importance of friends. "Through interacting with friends, children learn the give and take of social behavior in general. They learn how to set up rules, how to weigh alternatives and make decisions when faced with dilemmas." Plus, "The solace and support of friends help children cope with troubling times and through transition times." It doesn't matter so much how many friends your child has, just that he or she has one or two who he or she relates with positively and consistently.

  • Sunshine

  • These days, kids spend so much time in front of screens, whether TV- or mobile-sized, that they aren't spending as much time in the sun as they should. They have the opposite problem kids of past generations had. Think of your children like little plants; they need nutrition, water and sunshine to grow properly. And if they get outside enough when they're young, they're more likely to enjoy outdoor pursuits when they're older, which will encourage exercise and prevent obesity.

  • A prayer

  • Teaching kids about the power of prayer gives them a constant source of comfort, even when their lovey is missing. Knowing that they can talk to God no matter where they are, and love them no matter what they do, can have a big impact on a child's confidence when facing challenges and new experiences. Every child should know he or she isn't alone in his or her trials.

  • A healthy snack

  • Kids don't always enjoy healthy food. In fact, it can feel downright impossible to force a single healthy morsel past their stubborn little mouths. But if you can get a kid hooked on a single healthy food item, you've started him or her on the path toward a healthy future. You can turn to that snack when he or she refuses everything else and feel like you've accomplished something worthwhile that day.

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  • A mother's love

  • Children need all kinds of love, but most important is the love of a mother. For those who, for one reason or another, aren't reared by their mother, this love might come from a grandparent, an older sibling, or other caretaker who serves as a mother figure. A mother's love is unconditional and never-ending, like a soft blanket that gives warmth and comfort no matter what the circumstances and provides the kind of security all children crave. With love, a child develops the confidence to face the world on his own, knowing he or she can always count on someone to support him through good times and bad.

  • Minky Couture believes in fulfilling children's basic need for comfort. Help your children feel comfortable by wrapping them up with a luxurious blanket._

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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