Posted by: coachingparents | November 25, 2009

Decoding Behavior- Emotional Needs

by Danielle Koprowski

When children are not delightful to be with, their behavior is telling us they have a need that requires our help. Those needs are Physical, Emotional or Sensitivity/ Temperament Issues. Let’s take a look at emotional needs.
Emotional needs (for children and adults)- Here is a partial list: Unconditional love, Loving touch, Affection, Acceptance, Connection, Respect, Feeling heard, Guidance, Safety, Security, Stability, Down time, Play, Self-Esteem, Self-Worth, Sense of belonging, Feeling valued, Friendship, Emotional release of pain, Freedom, Power (control over their life), Trust, Positive role models

That’s a long list and it’s only partial! Can you see why so many people have unmet emotional needs? The two main reasons children have unmet emotional needs are that parent’s have their own unmet needs and that not enough time is spent connecting with children.

One of the first indications that a child is feeling emotionally disconnected is that they begin to be uncooperative. When this happens, it is not bad or wrong, it is just a sign, like a flag going up saying, “My child needs something or My child needs help.” So we ask ourselves (or even the child) what is this behavior telling me? What is it that my child needs?

Is he developing autonomy and needs to feel powerful in his life? Is she hurting and needs to cry about something or release anger (punch a mad pillow)? Does she need to be accepted even when she makes choices I don’t agree with? Does he need some down time after a busy day? Does she need play that includes loving touch and affection? Does he need some focused one on one time?

When you are in the moment, asking the question, it is often mom intuition (or parents intuition) that gives the answers. Trust yourself and your ability to feel out what it is that your child needs.

It is not always so important that we find the answer, what is most important is that we ask the question and look for the root of the behavior rather than punish the behavior. Punishment never solves the problem of unmet needs. If a starving man steals food, can I punish him out of his need for food? No, I can address the need and teach him appropriate ways to get food.

Look again at that list of emotional needs, maybe even print this out and read that list daily. Ask yourself these questions:
What one thing can I do today to meet my own emotional needs?
What one thing can I do today to meet my child’s emotional needs?

Danielle Koprowski
Free To Be Parenting Support
ACPI Certified Coach for Parents


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