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"When their wants are no longer (JUST) their needs"...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Something happened in the last few months where I’m no longer “just” giving my daughter everything she needs. Now I’m giving her everything she wants! I guess she’s out of the stage where her needs ARE her wants. How do you deal?
post #2 of 14
I think with toddlers "wants" and "needs" can be a fuzzy distinction to make. They still "need" lots of hands on attention, for instance. They still "need" lots of snuggles and cuddles.

However, they don't need cookies. Or candy.

Its okay to give everything GOOD that your child wants. As long as you are able to (physcially and emotionally.) But when you begin to give things that are not so good, then I think you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your approach.

Also, sometimes even giving something good ends up being really NOT good for you or someone else. I think in those cases, its okay to say "not this time," if it is going to hurt you much more than it is going to help her. I.e. -- from time to time it might be fine to say, "No, I can't take you for a walk right now because I feel too tired. Maybe later."

Its a difficult balance to maintain though.
post #3 of 14
oops double post!
post #4 of 14
This is a great topic.

I think there needs to be a sort of mental adjustment after the age of 1ish where we realize that our childs needs and wants are no longer the same thing like they were in babyhood.

For example, when a baby cries to nurse I drop what I'm doing and nurse him. A one year old who requests to nurse can be told wait 10 minutes while Mama finishes what she's doing. I think it's important to start to teach a child that others in the house have needs too.
post #5 of 14
Basically, I think this is the crux of good parenting. Not so great parents don't provide for their children's needs adn consider them all wants and some parents think everything their children desire are needs and kill themselves providing them all. Doing that means that their children will never learn how to prioritize.

The big challenge is really teasing apart which is which adn then as they get even older teaching them how to provide all their needs and as much of their wants as possible. It's really the whole of parenting. In some ways, children under 1ish are easy because pretty much everything is a need. Once they're in and past their ones it's much harder to tell.

I think just the fact that you're thinking of this will make you a better parent. you won't be right each time, but allow yourslef to adjust. If you guess somethign as a want and it's a need (you can often tell becaus they will do some kidn of panicky response if they don't get it) you'll change the way you respond next time and vice versa. Also, just add a little more challenge sometimes your kids will come to you with something that is clearly a want, but it will really be disguising a need. Once you address the need the want will go away.

I do have to say that one of the most satisfying things about parenting is when I respond to the wants and needs appropriately.
post #6 of 14
I think this is a great topic. I have a 14 month old who is and always has been high needs, so I got pretty used to jumping whenever she cried, which was a lot. But some time a couple of weeks ago, I think it was, she was sitting on the couch, and she was pointing at some Cheerios on the coffee table and whining for them, and I (who was trying to do something at the time) was giving them to her. Then she was pointing and grunting at various things around the room that she wanted and I was getting this book or that toy for her. Suddenly, I thought, "Waaait a minute. She knows how to get down off the couch! She is just sitting there on her little throne demanding this and that and I am bowing and scraping her to her just to prevent a tantrum!" I realized that what seemed like the easiest thing to do at the time may not be the best thing for everyone involved. I decided it is time for her to start learning that other people have needs too. We are going slowly, and I never tell her no, "on principle", only when I truly have something else I need to do, or in instances like the one I described where she really can satisfy her *own* wants. Or when I truly will lose my mind if I have to read "Baby's Book of the Body" one more time that hour. And of course when what she wants isn't safe.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
YES!!! The scenario you just mentioned about the sofa is the exact type thing I’m talking about. My daughter was lying on the ground crying because I would not get up and give her a toy that was 2 inches from her hand (she can walk/crawl/roll). There are other things like when she wants to open a second yogurt before finishing the first, or doesn’t want to put her shoes on in the garden with thistles and etc.
There are times when I absolutely must be in charge – dah! I think that in my books where they are talking about infants needs being their wants there should be a side note warning parents to watch out for when this begins to change because I missed it by a mile! I’m joking and don’t meant to pass blame to my books but I would have loved some help with this one earlier on.
I’ll just go gradually with these restrictions and hope for the best. I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, I started this post on another thread under “Gentle Discipline”. There were some helpful things in there but it is also interesting to compare the different tone of the thread. This is from my last post:
The suggestion about breaking up chores and etc. has been helpful. I was reluctant to listen to this good advice because I really wanted this to be about changing my daughter’s behavior. It was, after all, bugging me! I also was reluctant to resume doing chores while Aya was in the sling because it’s really hot here and she’s getting big but I tried that also and it’s helping.
I’m finding slowly that short conversations about not having something that she wants are working better than long, deep, “meaningful” – talks about her feelings. Besides this type of talking is not really my style and it makes me feel fake, which is the last thing I want to be with my child.
I say something like, “Oh, I hear you saying you don’t want to go to Ella’s house and would rather go to the playground because you really like going to the playground.” This is helping because sometimes I think that if I don’t give her what she wants than I must not understand what she wants – This is also helping with whining. I then say that we are going to Ella’s even though she doesn’t want to and if that makes her sad or angry than that’s okay but we’re still going and that we will go to the playground another time.
How does this sound? Any additions?
P.s. TV is not an option for us. I would love to be able to use it in moderation but moderation does not work for her so we don’t use it.
post #8 of 14
This is a totally relevant issue for us, too. Addie just turned 18 months and vaccilates wanting to be independent and wanting to be waited on hand and foot. It can be a hard balance to find. I never compromise on safety issues (You step into the street- you go immediately inside the house.) Other than that, I choose my battles. I try to be flexible to what she wants, while trying to avoid being pushed around. I know in my heart of hearts that she does need boundaries, because they make her feel safe and secure. It is just her job to test the boundaries and make sure that they are there. She does her job very well and every day!

Gretchen [
post #9 of 14
This is a great thread! mamaduck and dotcommama, you have both made great points about toddler needs/wants, and setting limits/learning about others needs/desires in the house.

We are in the midsts of learning our DD better too. Finding out what things are truly needs, what things are wants, and when it is appropriate to give her each. Of course her needs are always met, but I believe even her wants she be met as well, as long as they are reasonable, safe, and/or healthy.

This is where DH and I sometimes differ in opinion, although I think I am bringing him aroundto my way of thinking on it.

So far we go down this route:

Why shouldn't she have the object she wants/desires?
Does it compromise her health/safety?
Can we provide her with this want/desire without hurting ourselves/anyone else?

If these quick things can be answer with a no, then we respond to her wants(which we sometimes are still deciphering).

Oh, and we also ask ourselves- Does it really matter if she gets her way in the grand scheme of things?(Things within reason of course.)
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I must say that being aware of what was going on and addressing the issue little by little has made big improvements. Also, by not trying to avoid her frustration I have been noticing a pattern of when she is most fussy and when she is in a better mood. And, by limiting how much I’m worrying throughout the day about her every-single-want and protest I have been able to give more when I know she needs it. An example of our adjustments:
Aya seems to be fussy no matter what around 10am and I’m getting better at letting her be that way if she needs. I don’t loose too much energy over it. I have realized that it is inevitable and all I have been doing is postponing it. It’s like a release.
And, I know needs and is comforted by my 100% after nap time so I save a little extra to give it to her then. I used to be too frustrated by the afternoon to help her after her nap.
In the end, I have not added more or taken any time away from our time together but I have shifted it around. By not giving in to her every want I am able to meet her every need. Also, she is learning good lessons in the morning about not having all things that she wants when she wants them.
I’ll let you know more in a few days.
P.s. Do any of your children actually hurt themselves because they are upset and flailing around? How do you deal with this situation?
P.s.s I also had read that potty training can lead to some changes in you child such as becoming controlling but that is usually only lasts for a little while.
post #11 of 14
Originally posted by HannahSims

Aya seems to be fussy no matter what around 10am and I’m getting better at letting her be that way if she needs. I don’t loose too much energy over it.

DD also has a 'fussy' time, and although I am becoming more aware of this time, it still takes a conscience effort for me to realize it, and let it be. I don't want to keep her from being mad or frustrated, as these are natural emotions and need to be dealt with, and not covered up.

Also, she is learning good lessons in the morning about not having all things that she wants when she wants them.
I think this is a great idea
P.s. Do any of your children actually hurt themselves because they are upset and flailing around? How do you deal with this situation?
P.s.s I also had read that potty training can lead to some changes in you child such as becoming controlling but that is usually only lasts for a little while.

DD hasn't attempted to her herself, but she does throw herself on the floor. If she is on hardwood or linoliem she will GENTLY layon the floor and then commence to kicking and throwing herself around. But on the carpet she really goes to town. Pretty clever, eh?

DD is doing really well with potty learning, and hasn't become controlling in any other aspect than wanting us to "go me"when she poo's on the potty.
post #12 of 14
Excellent question, Hannah!

I believe that their wants and needs remain the same, but the need is often hidden under the surface as the child gets older.

Using the example of the "sofa throne" above, lol...the child's need isn't really for mommy to bring her everything she asks for. The child is in the process of learning something about feelings, desires, power, etc. Her *need* is to be taught something about that.

So, I would tell the child gently that I'm not getting them for her, that she can get them herself. When the inevitable tears begin, I will comfort her, explain to her that it's okay to feel mad and that this is normal (but of course I'm not giving in and bringing her the stuff). I will try to help her process her feelings, the situation. This is how I believe I can continue to meet her needs, without "spoiling" her (for lack of a better word).

The tricky part is recognizing what the underlying need is. Emotions are so complex and I think as adults it is so hard to remember what it's like to feel them for the first time and not know how to control or rationalize them. It is not always easy to see the underlying struggle beneath the situation.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
I understand that for some “wants” there may be some underlying needs. I’m having a hard time sussing what the underlying need for another gummy bear is : > ). At some point wants are NOT needs. When does this happen? I KNOW it happens at least by 28 because my wants outweigh my needs by one billion to one! He, he, he…
It seems like parents are saying that around 18 months the shift begins.
post #14 of 14
Well said, Piglet.

We are doing better at our house, as well. In the past few days I have been trying to get at the underlying need behind the whining and bossing going on and I have discovered that my daughter was just plain old bored. I have been taking her somewhere fun and stimulating every day where she can be around other kids and have some different things to play with. Nothing expensive, we're talking playground here. It has really made a huge difference. It has opened up her curiosity and sense of exploration that has carried over into our home, like she is re-discovering her toys and figuring out new things to do with them. It has been a shift for me to realize that she is older now and going to the laundrymat just isn't as exciting as it used to be! And carrying her around while I go about my business just doesn't cut the mustard anymore.
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