Monday, May 4, 2009

Meeting the needs of children, meeting the needs of parents

As you may have seen from my last post, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to meet my needs as a parent as well as the needs of my children. I quoted Naomi Aldort who stated in Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves that " Even what some parents call 'natural' consequences is mostly parent-imposed and therefore causes the same harm and mistrust as punishment." I received a lot of interesting and insightful comments.
To add to my confusion, I've also been reading Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids-7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict Into Co-Operation by Hart and Hodson. I've been practicing some of the ideas from this book with J and B over the last couple of days and have been amazed at how the conflict has dissipated. The authors talk about us all having universal needs such as fun, learning, choices, physical nurturance, relationship with our self(achievement, integrity, self-expression, etc...)relationship with others(belonging, kindness, sharing gifts and talents,etc...)and relationship with the world(beauty, harmony, order and so on). We are all trying to meet our universal needs.
We may have a need to meet for order(cleaning up the house) while the child may have a need to meet for having fun or learning. It's important to realize that our children are always doing their best to meet their needs. They state, "While you can ask others if they are willing to help you, you are the only one responsible for meeting your needs. . .thinking that another person or a group of people are responsible for your needs has at least two unfortunate outcomes. The first is that you can waste a lot of time waiting for certain others to do things for you when you could be busy finding your own solutions. . .the other. . .is that whenever you think in these terms-that others should, have to, or must do something for you-people will most often hear a demand, which makes giving to you less likely. Demands provoke power struggles and are a major obstacle to joyful giving and willing co-operation."
They suggest, in a family meeting, exploring questions such as, "What do people need? Why do you do the things you do?"
Needs: Play, Learning, Rest
Strategies for meeting need: playing video games, reading, 8 p.m bed time

Let's see. . .so much good info in this book. . .they say that you should try to hear your child's yes behind the no. "Whenever your child says No to you, he is saying Yes to something else. By taking time to find out what is more exciting, interesting, fun, or challenging than what you have in mind, you defuse a potentially volatile situation, make a heartfelt connection, and clearly demonstrate your interest and care."

Make do-able requests. p. 104-105
Would you be willing to take ten minutes and help me pick up the living room?
Right now, would you brainstorm with me some ways to help you remember to wash your hands before eating?
Non-doable requests-
Would you help around the house?
Would you be more considerate?

". . .at the time you make your request there may be other needs your child is wanting to meet that will lead them to say No to your request. What you feel and what you say next will demonstrate whether you have made a request of a demand. If you are upset on hearing No to your request, you have probably made a demand. If you have make a request, you can receive your child's No as another possible point of connection."

By the way, we have lots of possible points of connection in our family!:) There's so much more in this book with lots of great ideas for peaceful conflict resolution. Some food for thought. Let me know what you think!


  1. Lots of good points. I esp. agree with the part where the authors say,"... you are the only one responsible for meeting your needs...etc"

  2. The most important thing I see here is that the conflict in your home has dissipated, and I take that to mean everyone's needs are being met, and therefore, power struggles are becoming more rare. I think if we regularly try and find ways to say yes to our kids, they will be more willing to say yes to us. I meet their needs, they are more willing to meet mine; but I also realize that they are not responsible for my happiness.

  3. I think the point about the non-do-able, and the make do-able requests was interesting. I would add that being very specific is most helpful. For example, "please pick up three toys for me" rather than "please help me around the house".

  4. Wow, what a fantastic book. Thank you so much for sharing. I've noticed that I need to change some ways I communicate with my girls now that the girls are getting older....responsibilities...they don't have enough. I need to work on that one. I am going to find that book, hopefully tomorrow. Thanks again.