I originally wrote this series of posts in 2012 and 2013 as a way to gently help parents move toward more peaceful parenting and more peaceful lives. The feedback I received was incredible. They were stories of lives transformed.
Because these simple techniques work. And they can truly transform your life.
Will you join me? I'm digging in on this again. Starting now.
Also I invite anyone who is on Facebook to join our More Peaceful Parenting group there. You can join us here.
We've begun our work in Step 1 with how we treat ourselves (as well as how we see our own parents). Beginning with self-love and forgiveness is an important step towards becoming more effective parents. I hope you've spent some time this week treating yourself with forgiveness and love. Keep at that list from time to time. It's important work to truly appreciate ourselves and who we are in our hearts.
The next nine steps (including today's post) will be simple concepts that you can integrate in your day-to-day experience with your child. They will not be homework-based or something you do when you are alone. They are in-the-moment changes to the way you think or speak. With some determination and focus they will become a part of how you engage with your family. Each week we'll add more tools to help you create more peaceful connection with your child and slowly you'll build a whole new skill set and with it a new relationship.
Each week I will try to also provide you with an additional resource for those who want to go further with their learning. This week I encourage you to pick up a copy of Raising our Children Raising Ourselves from your library or bookstore. If you want to move a little faster than this 10 step series will take you, this is an excellent place to start. This well written book transformed our home from one with frequent conflict to one with deep connection. I can't say enough about it. I use what I read here every single day.
No, onto step 2!
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Identify the Need Behind the Behavior
Non-violent communication (NVC) is about building relationships on connection rather than coercion. When applied to your relationship with your children, NVC is the foundation of becoming more peaceful parents. NVC is about listening with empathy and speaking your own truth with honesty and love.
At its core, NVC is based on the very important understanding that behind every behavior is a need.
Any parent who's been in line at the grocery with a toddler at nap-time has lived this first hand. The behavior (the check-out-meltdown) is the expression of a need (in this example the need is for sleep.)
They are basic needs that we all share. Like the need for food. For play. For comfort. For love. For quiet. For belonging. For compassion. For rest.
When a person (child or adult) acts out that behavior is the expression of an unmet need.
And if you as the parent work to see the need beneath the expression you can address it (along with the behavior). (Personally I would attest that addressing the need is a much more effective strategy than addressing the behavior. Sometimes both are needed, but often times simply just addressing the need is enough.)
A complete list of basic needs can be found here. For the sake of simplicity, I have pulled out a shortened list of needs that your children may be expressing.
- To be understood
- Rest or Sleep
- Exercise or movement
- To matter
The next time you are in a parenting struggle – when your impulse is to say something along the lines of, "Hey! You can't hit me!" or "Sit down until you are excused from the table." or "Don't talk back, young man." pause for a moment, take a breath, and ask yourself:
What is the need my child is expressing?
Because knowing the need might dramatically shift how you address the behavior.
To identify the unfulfilled need, consider what else is going on in your child's moment, day, week, or life.
Is she hungry, tired, scared, or ashamed? Did he have a hard day at school or home? Is she struggling with fitting in or succeeding at what she tried to accomplish? Dig deeper than the expression of the moment.
That's all we are working on this week. Learning to see the need our child is expressing.This important perspective shift can help you focus on the needs of your child rather than just the expression of that need.
I'd love to hear your thoughts now, as well as your experiences are after you've had some time to practice. Have a blessed weekend, friends.
7 thoughts on “More Peaceful Parenting Step 2. Identify the need.”
Thank you for sharing this!
How serendipitous, Rachel! I am just compiling a list of books I have wanted to read for a long while, and Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids was at the top of my list. Then I decided to visit here as it has been awhile…how amazing is that! I indeed think the universe is trying to point something out to me. Thank you for helping the universe.
I;ve always had problems with bonding with my only child, a son, now 5. I have read a few books including Peaceful parenting and although they have helped somewhat, I still was a long way off from truly connecting and bonding with my son. I hav always tried to find what I am doing wrong with him. I realized that I was always trying to fit him into some routine. I let him do things he liked but when it was “time” to wrap things up-he wasn’t ready and there would be a battle. It was more or less little things like that. But our relationship was not truly what it could have been. Then I fell ill with a stomach bug suddnly 2 weeks back and it drained out the life in me. And it slowed me down. I didn’t have any timetables with my son, I didn’t have any time slots-i just let him sit by me and play with his toy animals, paint pictures etc…If he got too overwhelming for me, I would say “I really do feel tired now, son” and he seemed to understand. Most of the time I was a silent spectator as I was too fatigued even to talk. But it seems to have turned our relationship around…It was as if he felt unlimitedly accepted by his mother…I wasn’t correcting him, I wasn’t giving him my opinion, but was listening silently to his…I was letting him be himself, totally, without restriction…Sometimes we went to bed a little late, sometimes things didn’t get done like I had planned them-I was letting life unravel in its own way, showing me what magic there could be in unplanned days…This didn’t exactly go like this for working days, but as our relationship had improved so much, they too were managed well, without conflict. Prior to my illness I used to raise my voice to him sveral times, but since, I have never done so…my life is peaceful now…it is meaningful…I have found my son at last…and he has found his mother…and we have met on common ground. God bless you all.
This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story, your heart, your tenderness. Love to you and your son, mama.
Thank you Rachel…I felt you would understand..
Rachel, I love this series and so badly need to put this into practice. Could you offer some examples to help identify some of these needs? I found the examples you offer in #3 to be very helpful and even correlate directly to our morning(only it was legos and a brother instead of castle and a sister).
I’ve just started your series over (read step 4 first) and I have a question : With older children (my daughter is 4yo) do you ask them what their needs are or is it just all about “knowing”, cause if that is the case, you’ll have to share about how to develop our intuition. My daughter is NOTORIOUS for not sitting down for meals. Even if 30 seconds before I serve it up she was begging for it because she was SOOO hungry, the moment it’s on the table, she wants to do something else. Like if seeing it is all she needed to satisfy her hunger or something. I know preschoolers are not “designed” to sit still for very long, but sitting for meals is something that we want to have in our home. How would you go about it?