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Addressing the NEEDS before the NO

Aimee Hartwell, LCSW & Certified Synergetic Play Therapist, talks about what setting boundaries can look like in light of meeting your child’s needs in this 4 minute video.

Here are the highlights: 

Children are often told ‘no’ or shut down in a variety of ways for lots of different reasons, sometimes for valid reasons like safety or environment. However, over time, if most needs are perceived to be shut down by the child, they eventually learn to distrust themselves and not advocate to get their needs met since children advocate for themselves through sometimes undesirable behavior.

For example, children are often asked in school to sit down or be still. Developmentally, this can be very hard for kiddos to stay still for long periods of time. If a teacher notices a child having a hard time settling down, they could offer the child a chance to go to the back of the room and move within a set area until they are ready to join the class again. This addresses the child’s need to move their body in an appropriate, safe way without telling them no. The ultimate hope is that the child learns to trust their needs and to redirect these needs into an appropriate activity to meet them.

What we can do as parents and caregivers: 

  1. First, notice. How often are we telling our kids “no” or shutting them down throughout the day?
  2. What is the need behind the behaviors? Can you dig a little deeper to find out what your child could be communicating?
  3. Practice addressing certain needs with a replacement behavior when you are able
  4. Don’t judge. If you miss an opportunity to do this, don’t judge yourself – it is all about progress and not perfection!

If you need some assistance putting these principles in place or if you or your child would benefit from parent coaching or play therapy, don’t hesitate to reach out on our contact page here.

Talk soon,

Aimee Hartwell

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