Focus on Family: Allowing Children What They Need

What do our kids really need to grow up to be healthy and successful?  There is a lot of pressure for kids to excel in school and at test taking, to join numerous extra-curricular activities, and from themes in the media to be advanced, and even sexy.  In the past, I’ve touched on some of the things children need, including love, attention, affection, to be heard, and to be disciplined with respect.  My focus now is on noticing what your kids are telling you they need.

A while back, when my daughter was six-years old, she asked to drink from a baby bottle.  I was surprised by this request since she hasn’t done this in four years.  Although I was initially taken aback, I knew my reaction was coming from my own beliefs about what a six-year old should and shouldn’t be doing.  I thought about what she was telling me.  On a deeper level, drinking from a bottle may be about her need to suckle, to feel taken care of, and to have no responsibilities . When I put myself in her shoes and imagined all the pressure she must feel academically, socially, and emotionally, I could understand her need.  Since I also knew that what she was asking for was safe, I bought her the bottles.  I know that when this need in her has been met, she will give the bottles up.  For now, this is what she needs.

Notice what your child is asking you for.  Perhaps your kids are asking you to play with them, read to them, or to eat together as a family.  This closeness with you lets your child know you love them and are happy they are part of your life.  Maybe your children are asking to return to an earlier stage of their development, as my daughter did.  This could appear in the form of revisiting their need to suckle, to be taken care of, or of revisiting elimination (bladder & bowel) issues.  Most children return to that stage, get that need met, and, when they’re ready, move on.

As the parent, it is your job to monitor that, as you allow your child to get his/her needs met, your child is safe and physically healthy.  If you are uncertain whether what your child wants is, indeed, emotionally healthy, talk it over with a professional, such as your therapist or pediatrician.  Helping your child get his/her needs met now will go a long way toward helping him or her develop into a healthy and successful adult.

To schedule an appointment to learn more about how feeling gratitude for your partner can greatly improve your relationship, call 908-246-3074 or email mkeller@couplestherapycenterofnj.com

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