Quite frankly, our children have a lot of issues they face daily. And they bring a lot of issue to the family. When we are trying to find the root cause of their pain, which is expressed through their behaviors, we can come at it in any number of ways, but I have found that one of the best ways is to frame it as a curious question, “What do you need?” When I coach parents, I usually ask them to pick one or two issues they are particularly troubled by that they want support in. And, in essence, this is me asking, ‘What do you need?’
A big part of my coaching approach is to teach parents to see into their children’s actual needs by seeing beyond the behavior. Meeting their needs builds trust and enhances attachment. This is especially true if we can be pro-active and meet their needs before they express the need. But even in the midst of a behavior, asking “What do you need” is far more productive than “why are you acting this way?”
This hasn’t always been easy for me, I’ll admit. One of my stumbling blocks was that I thought I already knew the answer to the question. I’ll TELL you what you need:
You need to stop acting up. You need to get over it. You need to do what I say.
I could let go of those beliefs when I began to cultivate an attitude of true curiosity about what is underneath their behavior that in the past I just wanted STOPPED. When I understood the importance of honoring who they are, where they’ve come from, and Who is in charge of their healing, I change. I knew their voice mattered, so I knew the question had to be “what do you need?”.