Sometimes as a parent, you look around and think, “What happened here?” It may look or sound like there was an explosion of sorts. It’s in these moments that you can usually guess that someone’s not getting their emotional needs met!
We had one such moment in our house the other night. When I took a step back, a deep breath, and a minute to assess the situation, we were all spared from the drama that was unfolding in front of us. My Powerful Child was feeling a lack of control over the situation. My Proper Melancholic Child was feeling that things were not fair and that I was not understanding the concern he had with that. And My Playful Child was feeling the need to be center stage and could only secure that spot by being more noticed than the other two children that were erupting at the moment. Yes, it feel like utter chaos. And I must admit that in the moment I felt overwhelmed and frustrated, not to mention that it was unfolding in front of my mom and I was utterly mortified! My first response was to call them all three together and get the train back on the track. Within just a minute of that attempt, it was obviously not the right right approach. Things continued to escalate, rather than de-escalate!
So I decided to send them each to a different spot in the house and meet them there in their location to better address what they needed. In that way, I could individually hear them, care about them, and problem solve according to their needs. The child needing control was able to pull it together when I could give two choices of what he was able to do. That allowed him to have some control and get things back on track. The child who was hung up on fair and being understood was able to voice his perspective. I agreed with what was right and decided that in this situation there could be some grace and less discipline for his part in the situation. And my daughter that was needing to be the center of attention, once I got her to her room and she was getting my attention was able to quickly apologize, accept a hug, and agreed to her discipline. Had we stayed in the kitchen trying to wade through all of this with a one size fits all approach, I can assure you it would have gotten messy!! Instead, after making my rounds, we were back at the table and laughing in 10 minutes! So worth the few minutes it took!
How do you know when your child’s emotional needs are not being met?
- Increase in fits or anger
- Appears to shut down
- Negative attitudes flare
- Begin to get argumentative
- Increase in sibling rivalry
- Flaring struggles of that personality
- Acting out in haughty or aggressive fashion
The problem is, when the above things start happening, it can be our nature to pull back, get frustrated and withdraw from a situation or even a child because of the negative feelings that rise in us. When we feel bugged or annoyed by them, that is the first sign that something needs addressed. And the interesting thing is: they need the most when we feel the least like giving it. So stop when you feel that happen inside of you. Pause and think about the core emotional needs of your child. How can you hear what they are asking for, whether through their behavior or words. It may take some sorting! Those powerful children are power packed and very in tune with their anger. You may find yourself hurting because of some of the things they say. Pause, hold your tongue, and think. Then respond in a manner that addresses their need. Does that mean that they don’t get discipline for the disrespect or inappropriate manner in which they showed their anger. NO! That must happen too. But address the need, and they will respond to even the discipline in a whole new way.
This may sound a little complicated, but it’s not. We will break it down a little more in tomorrow’s post and talk about each personality. I will give some practical tools for you to put to good use.