Mother and Child photo My Ideal Parents


Throughout history, children were thought of as miniature adults who simply 
needed food, water and protection in order to physically mature into adulthood. 
However, in the past century psychologists discovered (thankfully)  that infancy and childhood were critical developmental periods. During these years we need parents to actively and purposefully care for us so that we can mature into productive and emotionally healthy adults capable of loving relationships (friendship, parenting, or intimate bonds), of having meaningful working lives, and healthy recreational interests. 

In Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP), there are five basic needs. These are:

1. Sense of Place and Belonging 
2. Nurturance
3. Support
4. Protection
5. Loving Limits

In PBSP, basic needs are initially met in a literal way, then in a symbolic 
way, and finally the young adult is able and equipped to meet their own needs. 

Let’s look at each of these basic needs to see how this occurs: 

Sense  of  Place  and  Belonging

In the best case, parents are intentional in wanting a child and are commited to providing a loving, stable home. The literal PLACE is the womb. Ideally, all the needs of the fetus are met so they can develop into a healthy baby. 

Next, the baby’s symbolic need is fulfilled by interactions that convey 
that they are  loved. This is most powerfully conveyed in the mother and/or father’s gaze when they look into their child’s eyes and truly see and bless the child with loving smiles, coos, and murmurs. The more loving interactions, the more the child gains in knowing that he or she is loved, wanted and cared for. These interactions ensure that as an adult, the child will feel at home in their family, community and even at home with themselves. 


The basic need of  nurturance is literally conveyed as the mother tenderly holds the infant to her breast to feed the child. The infant drinks the mother’s 
milk and feels satisfied; full in her tummy and warm and comfortable in her 

The child is symbolically nurtured through communications and behaviors that pr ovide comfort and attend to the child’s inner states. For example, “Oh, 
Honey you fell and need a bandaid for your scraped knee. Let me fix that for 
you.” As the individual grows into adulthood, they are able to nurture 
themselves by eating healthy foods, getting adequate rest, exercising and taking care of their physical body.


Infants are given a literal sense of support when physically carried. Parts of the body that need support are the head, back, buttocks, back of thigh and feet. 

Support is symbolically conveyed by interactions that let the child know their 
caregivers “have their back”and will be their for them. For example,  “Sweetie, I will pick you up after school today.” And, the parent is predictably consistent in following 
through on promises and pledges. As an adult, the individual is able to demonstrate that they can support themselves financially or by meeting their obligations. In friendships, they are able to balance giving and receiving. 


Infants and children have bodies that are soft and vulnerable. Literal protection must be met by parents who keep them safe from the elements, from dangerous situations, and from harmful people/animals. 

The child is given symbolic protection with interactions that support the child’s needs and welfare, both physically and emotionally. When these youngsters grow into adulthood, they are able to manage their own welfare by making healthy choices about  life. 

Loving  Limits

There are strong energies within all of us that allow us to create and to destroy. These energies are found in the expression of sexuality and anger.  Parents need to literallyset loving limits so that children understand and express anger and sexuality appropriately and at the right age. At the same time, parents need to help the child to name and express those feelings without shame. 

The symbolic fulfillment of loving limits occurs when parents help the child embrace their gender and teach the child to interact with other children in a healthy, age appropriate way.  Anger is appropriately supported and the child is guided to make decisions that promote justice and fairness to others, and to themselves. As an adult, the individual is able to develop good boundaries in relationships that allow anger to be appropriately expressed and reduce the incidence of depression and abuse.  At the same time, sexuality is expressed in ways that promote respect and healthy relationships with others.

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