Identifying the Need

As we go about our day to day lives we all have different needs.  Some of our needs are easy to know and in times of conflict or struggle it can take a little longer to figure out what they are.  As a parent coach I help parents figure out what their own needs are, however, I also help them identify their children’s needs too.  Children need help developing the skill of not only identifying the need but communicating it.  As they act out in all different ways  we sometimes have to step back and look at the bigger picture.  Does a child need some quiet space, are they hungry, are they tired or are they trying to tell us something that they can’t express into words, and so forth.

The other day my youngest woke up for school ready to start the day.¬† We were all ‚Äėoff our mark‚Äô a little bit, as it was only the second day back after having two weeks off for spring break.¬† His older brothers were informed the day before that they were to wear their school blazers because of an assembly.¬† On Tuesdays my little guy wears a special gym uniform.¬† It is so cozy.¬† Imagine grey sweat pants with a warm grey sweat shirt.¬† I would love to wear this every day.¬† However, on this day he refused to put it on and insisted he too should wear his blazer uniform like his brothers.¬† With tears and staggered speech he begs me to email his teacher.¬† I, being the diplomatic parent that I am, provide the logical suggestion of getting into the gym clothes and packing the blazer and other apparel.¬† When we got to his classroom we could then ask the teacher and change in the bathroom if we had too.¬† He, being 6 and behaving accordingly, undiplomatically disagreed.¬† My internal mommy dialogue goes something like this: holy mother of pete, just put on the freaking sweat pants, who wouldn‚Äôt want to wear those sweat pants, its 7:35 and I am not nearly awake or even alive enough to be processing this kind of illogical meltdown and really we only have 9 weeks of school left couldn‚Äôt you just go with the flow, do what your told, and put on those fuzzy sweat pants before I loose my marbles and make everyone walk to school and then book a flight to Maui alone!!!!¬† After my internal moment, I take a breath and look for the need.¬† The truth is that my original and very logical plan won‚Äôt work for him, as it didn‚Äôt address¬†his ¬†need.¬† His need is to avoid feeling embarrassed and for him to show up in the wrong uniform¬†would elicit that emotion.¬† A feeling he has had very little experience with, but knowing him well, I know that he does not like to be the centre of attention.¬† I pulled out my phone and together we emailed his teacher‚Ķ it went something like this:¬† ‚ÄėDear Ms. W.¬† Some Healey morning confusion‚Ķ does¬†K need to be in his blazer? Is it officially summer uniform?¬† When can I have my morning coffee? How many days till Summer exactly?¬† Would you like three boys for a seven day sleepover so that I can go to Maui?¬† Question 1 and 2 are relevant the others are bonus questions.¬† Compassionately, Margery.‚Äô

After we sent the email I told him that most likely we would get a response before we got to school and that if we had too we could change in the car.  All functioning was restored as he happily brushed his teeth and slipped into the grey sweats.  Many times our children are just having a moment, yet sometimes we can help them figure out how to communicate something a little bit deeper Рa skill that will help them in years to come.  As parents our needs are just as important and for me it was to enjoy my coffee right after I dropped them all off at school!

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.

Carl Jung