Think of an incident with your child that didn't go well. What did your child do? What need was s/he trying to meet? What did you do? What need were you trying to meet by doing what you did?
Quote is from my e-mail subscription to NonViolentCommunication.com
This week focuses on meeting needs. Misbehaviour in children is oftentimes just a way for them to express themselves. They don't understand societal or personal rules because they just haven't experienced them often enough. Not to mention that people often do not take the time to explain any rules to children, they just say "because I said so" and call it good.
Because I said so is the WORST excuse you can use to get your child to respect your rules and decisions. It shows that you don't have a valid reason, or that you don't respect them enough to explain anything to them. Children are "why" machines. They need to know why something is important. How can they make their own assumptions and inflections on rules and pressures if they don't actually understand them?
Not meeting needs and expecting others to fall to their feet to meet yours is something that people learn and do right into adulthood. Is it fair to others to not listen to their own needs while expecting yours to be fulfilled? Can you think of a poor experience recently with another person that ended badly? I'm sure it has happened, no matter how compassionate you are, everyone makes mistakes.
Remember that others have needs to, so try to meet in the middle.
Here is something that happened the other day with my family. My wife (W), daughter (Em), and a kid we babysit (Z).
W and I were heading out the door to pick up the kids and grab some groceries we needed for dinner. It was an emergency grocery run, as we hadn't made it to the store earlier in the week to pick up our usual fruits and vegetables. W asked me if I wanted to get dropped off at the daycare then walk home, and she would go to the store and get the groceries. I decided that we should all go along, in hindsight a poor decision. Em and Z were very excited and energetic, and were not listening at all. They were hitting the price signs and running all over, nearly running into other shoppers all the while. I tried many times to explain to them that what they were doing was unacceptable, and they needed to calm down. They didn't. We finally made it to the cashier and finished our shopping. On our way out the door, W snapped at the kids because she had enough, they were being disrespectful to both W and I, and it was enough. Harsh words were said, and the behaviour did not change all that much. We finally made it home, and W decided that she had a long enough day (she had a very rough day at work) and that she was going to lie down for a bit.
So, what needs was Em trying to meet (and Z, for that matter)?
- She had just gotten picked up from daycare, and so was excited to go home and play. Instead of being able to go play (as we usually did) she was dragged along to the grocery store where she wasn't allowed to do anything. This did not match her needs.
- She also wanted to be moving and expressing herself through her actions, and probably felt that she was being held back and contrained. She wasn't given enough time to understand what was going on and why her routine was being thrown out of whack, she was just thrust into the situation and expected to handle it.
- I wanted some interdependance, and wanted to be able to get responsibilities done (grocery shopping) and still spend time with W and Em
- I wanted to get the shopping done quickly so that we could go home, and didn't give the kids enough time to process the change in routine.
- I wanted the kids to listen to me when I explained things to them, and respect me.
- I particularly want to ensure that my daughter knows that she is loved and respected, and that she can express her feelings and needs to me whenever she may need it. I want her to forgive me even though she doesn't act as though she remembers what happened.
Do you have an example of an incident (either with another adult or a child) that didn't go well? Analyze it. Break it down. Figure out what possible sources of issues were, and see if you can create a compromise. Just because that one situation has passed doesn't mean that there won't be more that may arise. Deal with it ahead of time, and predict issues.
Peace and serenity,
(this post is a part of November's blog carnival against child abuse)
Enjoy the Compassionate Parenting series? Click the link for a full list from the series.