Understanding the Needs of Our Children

CME WebsitesBehavior, Challenging Behavior

Is my child trying to get my attention?

The phone rings. You answer. Suddenly you hear, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” while your child is clinging to your leg.

A child who is constantly seeking your attention has not learned to enjoy playing for his/her own sake. The best way to deal with this is to ignore the child’s pleas for your attention. Instead, when your child is playing nicely alone, give your child the reward of your attention.

Does my child want more power?

You tell your child to change out of his pajamas and put on his play clothes. He screams, “NO! I don’t want to and you can’t make me!”

You are bigger and you can yell louder, but you shouldn’t turn this into a power struggle. Instead, let your child make choices which will make him feel like he has some power. For example, instead of telling him to change his clothes, ask if he wants to wear his blue pants or his red ones. You get what you want, a child wearing clothes. He gets what he wants, a feeling of control.

Is my child trying to make me angry?

When your child screams, “I hate you!” don’t show that she has hurt your feelings, and don’t punish her for hurting your feelings. You might want to acknowledge that her comment makes you sad, but continue to show and express your love. You might say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Would you like me to read you a book?”

Does my child feel helpless?

If your child repeatedly throws a puzzle or another activity across the room and shouts, “I can’t do it.” He might need your help to boost his confidence.

Next time, try to break the activity into smaller steps so he can feel a sense of accomplishment for what he can do. Building the entire car might be overwhelming and leave him frustrated.
However, you can offer your verbal and nonverbal praise for the steps he successfully completes. “Wow. You attached the tires all by yourself!”

This will help your child develop his/her self esteem and make him/her want to learn new things.