Young children have a huge primary emotional need to connect to their parents, who do I think I’m talking to, you see it every day! As parents you can easily remember how intuitively connected you were to your child when (s)he was an infant or toddler. A shift seems to naturally occur when parents reclassify their child as a little kid, not a baby or a toddler any more. From that point on expectations about how much attention a child needs gets activated and the tendency to cut down on the ginormous need for emotional connection begins. That withdrawal can cause tantrums, power struggles and misbehavior.
There are several ways a young child can attempt to get his or her emotional needs met. One way occurs when a child uses her immature thinking and mistakenly decides that misbehavior is a great way to get attention. To further understand this concept read What to Do When Your Child Won’t Potty Train, it explains why a child sees misbehavior as a viable option for getting attention.
Another way a child can get their emotional needs met is to behave the way they perceive an adult does, by constantly talking. And that can get frustrating very quickly.
One thing that often gets mixed into all of this is when a child simply needs to ask a question. We all know young kids are first time learners and must ask tons of questions. Those questions are not meant to rob you of the quiet you long for; they are so the child understands how life, rules and relationships work. Many parents get frustrated by all the questions and decide that constant questions are just a bid for attention and attempt to shut them down.
So how can you tell the difference? To find out whether your child needs to connect to you, or truly has a question, try this tip.
When a child begins talking, look at them, remain silent and let them speak, but begin lightly and lovingly rubbing their back. The physical contact fills their need for connection and usually stops the chatter. You may actually find that your child has stopped talking in the middle of a sentence because her primary need, her need to emotionally connect to you, has been filled. Voila, a moment of silence. If your child really does have a question, then rubbing her back will frustrate and irritate her and cause her to push your hand away. Pushing you away is her unconscious signal letting you know that she has a logical need, not an emotional need.
I hope this helps.
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series. Go to proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters from her book and learn about other Proactive Parenting programs. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.