Have you noticed you have a need to do things well? So do your children. It’s why they can get frustrated when they make mistakes. It might be why they don’t want to take risks – because they have to do things well. This need to do things well is our fifth core need – competence. I wrote about it last week.

I typically represent the Five Core Needs Model with the pyramid I’ve been using in this series of posts. It helps to make the powerful connections between the core needs clear. The healthier each core need is, the healthier the others will be. For instance, if your son’s belonging isn’t healthy, it might be because his identity is negative. Or maybe he’s prideful, so friends don’t enjoy spending time with him. Or, maybe your daughter believes she doesn’t need to be good at anything because she doesn’t believe in her purpose.

The pyramid is going to change in a very important way. Ready?

As I wrote about last week, character is a huge factor in whether your children will be competent. Competence is also rooted in thinking skills, study strategies, decision-making, and problem-solving. Teach them how to do these things; don’t tell them to do them.

When your children choose to behave well and learn to think wisely, study well, make healthy decisions, and solve problems effectively, they become more secure in who they are. You would, too, right? This is a very important power of competence. It is directly related to security.

When children know that doing things well is not dependent upon always having the right answers, but instead, knowing the processes that can get them to the right answers, they will be more self-secure. They will be more successful when needing to be independent. They won’t constantly need others to help them. (Read this paragraph again. Do you see the power here?)

I’m not suggesting self-security is the only healthy security. No, as I wrote about in an earlier post, children should ideally place their security in God and in trustworthy people who they have discerned are on their side. But, when they are independent and needing to choose or decide, we don’t want them clueless, panicked, or asking unwise people to help them. Self-security will serve them well. When you teach them to be competent, you are also teaching this. Bonus!

And, this may encourage you, too. How can you position yourself to be a very significant part of their security? How do you become one of those people they discern is on their side? (Just the title of “parent” or “teacher” doesn’t always do it.)

When YOU are the one who teaches children how to be competent, they will develop greater security in you. It’s the very thing you want that I wrote about weeks ago. You want them to trust you. To know, you’re there for them. To choose to come to you when they need something.

How does this happen? When you take the time to teach the processes of competence. Don’t tell them what to do, teach them how.

So, we need to add an arrow from competence at the top of the pyramid to/from security at the bottom to remind us that just like the other core needs interact and influence each other, so do competence and security. The pyramid becomes a circle. Can you see it?


Teaching them how to be competent can be such a significant way to enhance your relationships and your children’s success. Will you do it and keep doing it? Ask them what strategies they need to know to be successful. It would be interesting to find out if they know. Then teach them those and others you believe will serve them well. Build their security by teaching them how to be competent.

All of this matters because children matter. Their well-being matters. They security matters. It’s the foundation of the other core needs. Without it they’re at risk. If you’re not sure what I mean, please read the other posts in this series here: security, identity, belonging, and purpose, and competence.

I sincerely hope you and your children will experience great joy and success as you apply these ideas.

[callout]All children and adults have been created by God with five core needs that must be met. In addition to reading my many blogs on this topic, my book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness, explains them in detail.[/callout]