Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy
- a blog for parents -
How do you know when your child needs something?
When they were infants it was easy - they cried. You still had to decode the meaning. Were they hungry, tired, in pain, sick, uncomfortable in their dirty diaper, or just needing your company? But the list seemed relatively short and you were generally able to figure it out.
Somehow...once they learn to talk and demonstrate more complex emotional attitudes, it can become more challenging. They don't always say what they mean and mean what they say. Sometimes they don't seem to know what they need or maybe don't know how to ask for it.
What if we recognized that they had the same needs - we all do - throughout their lives. No, seriously. They just express them "differently" as they grow up.
That eye-roll could mean, "I'm tired", but by the time we've figured that out, we're already in the middle of a telling them off for rolling their eyes at us! They may have had earlier "cues" that they were tired that we missed entirely, but we did not miss the eye-roll...
That cranky tone could mean, "I'm hungry", but they haven't realized it, and because we sent them to time out for using that tone with us, they didn't get a needed snack, so they were cranky all evening too.
When you boil it all down, their needs never really change. When they express a "negative" emotion (usually through a behaviour we don't like!), it's because they're hungry, tired, in pain, sick, uncomfortable (for more complicated reasons....hopefully not because of a dirty diaper!) or just needing your company. And so, what they need from you is essentially the same - help to identify and address their basic needs.
Don't believe me? Think about the last time you were "cranky". What were you really needing?