Understanding the Natural Needs of Children

Understanding the Natural Needs of Children

“It takes a village to raise a child,” goes an African proverb. But what exactly does that mean? In more traditional cultures, children are often raised not just by their parents, but by everyone in the community, whether related or not. In prehistoric times, it probably wasn’t necessary to know exactly who the father was. Everyone in the village felt equally responsible for raising the children and contributed to their upbringing.

Children likely accompanied adults in gathering and, as they grew older, in hunting. They observed what their older siblings did and imitated them. The focus of the adults was probably not specifically on raising the child, but on the task at hand, which the child could observe and participate in.

In this way, children naturally learned everything they would need to know for later in life, just as the young of other mammals, like tiger cubs, bear cubs, or chimpanzee babies, do.

What Might Parenting Have Looked Like in Early Human History?

Research on Indigenous Peoples Provides Insight

100,000 years ago, we likely lived in small groups of about 20 to 30 people, many of whom were children. However, many children died at a young age due to high infant mortality rates. Reaching adulthood significantly increased a person’s life expectancy.

It is often classically written that men went hunting while women gathered food such as bird eggs, fruits, and possibly fish with the children. However, this gender division is very much rooted in our contemporary cultural understanding, which did not exist at that time.

Another plausible scenario is that men and women hunted together while the elders stayed behind with the children.

Anyone who could run fast enough was likely needed for hunting and for transporting the animal back to the camp.

The widely prevalent patriarchal gender role division likely only emerged when humans settled down about 10,000 years ago. Suddenly, there was a need to defend one’s own land, especially the fields.

As a result, women probably lost their say over time and gradually came to be seen as possessions, like land and children, to be defended.

How Did Children Live in the Stone Age?

They were generally outside all day. As we know from modern toddlers, they loved mud, climbing trees, and building shelters from branches and leaves. This, incidentally, is without parental instruction – it’s probably genetically ingrained.

They enjoyed observing adults and older children, imitating them, or trying to “help.”

Not much has really changed.

But today, children face more constraints that go against their nature.

“Don’t climb that high,” “don’t use that to build a ‘cave,’” “don’t touch this.”

Children today still want to know as early as possible what is truly important.

But they can no longer go hunting or to work with their parents, even if they are biologically ready. As teenagers, they yearn for meaningful activities that benefit the community and through which they can also gain recognition.


We All Have a Bit of the Stone Age in Us!

Children are naturally curious and eager to learn. They can quickly grasp things that interest them. But what can be done if school increasingly becomes a source of frustration instead of motivation?

Sports can help here. Children need movement anyway, and if this happens in a club with activities that interest and excite them, all the better. They can channel their strength, enthusiasm, and even their physical posture, finding their place in a supportive community.

I always recommend sports that train the whole body, such as modern dance (breakdance, hip-hop, etc.), traditional martial arts (kung fu, taekwondo, karate…), or athletics/gymnastics. On the other hand, if your child is passionate about soccer, that’s great too. The important thing is that they feel comfortable and can build their self-confidence and posture on their growing abilities. It’s also wonderful if parents and children can play sports together.