"All communication is either an SOS or a care package." -- Kelly Bryson
Today we're exploring the sixth commitment from
10 Commitments that Will Make You a More Inspired Parent -- and a Happier Person
Commit to looking for the needs behind your child’s behavior.
Your kid has a reason for whatever he’s doing that displeases you. It might not
be what you consider a good reason, but he has a reason, and it’s what’s motivating
If yelling at him about his behavior were going to change it, that would have
worked already, right? Berating, nagging, and criticizing actually add to
the problem by making him defensive. Only by addressing the underlying need can
we participate in the solution and change our child’s behavior.
Does that mean you shouldn't get annoyed? You probably can't avoid it, if
you're human. But it's possible to transform your annoyance, which will make
you more effective in redirecting your child's behavior.
How? By remembering that your kid is just trying to meet legitimate human needs,
like the rest of us -- except in an immature way (because, by definition, a child
is an immature human). By seeing all "misbehavior" as an SOS.
What kinds of needs are we talking about? Attention, self-determination,
food, sleep, physical activity, physical affection, love, power (everyone needs
to feel like they can have an impact on their world!). All the needs that
motivate all humans. But often what lies behind our kids' most irritating behaviors
are these questions:
- "Do you love me?"
- "Do you see me?"
- "Do you know how much I need you?"
- "Can I be wholly myself and still be acceptable to you?"
Kids who don't have to fight to get their needs met mature faster, so their needs
are expressed with more maturity. And parents who address kids’ needs pre-emptively
by noticing problem areas (“Hmm….looks like she wants to choose her own clothes, even if they don’t match!”) are
rewarded with kids who cooperate.
And, miracle of miracles, you'll start to get Care Packages -- your child responding
to YOUR needs -- among those SOS behaviors.