The Daily Groove

Needs and Desires, Part 1

Parents commonly say things like, "You need to put your toys away and get ready for bed."

Such statements put kids in a double bind if they don't feel like complying. Who should they believe, their parents or their own feelings? It's a loss either way.

"You NEED to" is really a euphemism for "you HAVE to." It's a way of cloaking coercion.

If you don't intend to give your child a choice, be honest and state your command as a command: "Put your toys away and get ready for bed." If that feels rude, maybe your feelings are trying to tell you something. :)

You may realize that the real issue is your needs. That would be a step in the right direction, but don't stop there... A shift in focus from needs to desires is the key that will unlock your creativity.

Go to Part 2

Comments (closed)

Getting 2-year-old to help

My son is only 2 years old. Although I know he should learn to clean up after himself, I don't currently make him do so before bed or really ever at all. It feels better to me to just clean up after him myself. That way I can get all his toys in the right spots, etc. But, I would appreciate ideas and thoughts about how to get him to help. I'm sure that he would if I asked him to...he loves to help.

With Joy,

Re: Getting 2-year-old to help

If he loves to help then you can just focus on your desire for a clean space and let him see you enjoying the process of creating it. That will make helping you doubly attractive to him. Then all it'll take is a simple invitation to help.

When you don't "need" his help, he won't feel like you're trying to make him help, so you won't trigger his defenses (i.e., "counterwill"). He'll be able to connect with his desires and the pleasure of being in partnership with you.

This is an example of the shift from coercion to attraction-based parenting.


Re: Getting 2-year-old to help

I really like the absence of a pleading parent voice in this scenario. My three year old daughter only cleans up her toys about half the time I ask her too, but avoiding battles over it (at this point) takes priority over the tidiness of her room. She also doesn't always say "please" when asking for things and she sometimes whines terribly (help!). But she most always says "thank you" so sweetly. I think that the reason why is -- I modeled gratitude and joy with that phrase. Whereas, "please" is something I never feel like saying!

Clare, mother to Anu (who turned 3 mid-March)