Children Need To Feel That They Belong

Everybody wants to be heard and feel special!

In Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson helps us understand that misbehaving children are discouraged children who have mistaken ideas on how to achieve their Primary Goal: TO BELONG. Mistaken ideas lead to misbehavior. Address the mistaken belief rather than just the misbehavior.

Jane goes on to tell us to use encouragement to help children feel a sense of belonging so that the motivation for misbehavior will be eliminated. Focus on improvement rather than on mistakes.

A great way to help children feel encouraged is to spend special time being with them, doing something you can enjoy together. With younger children (0-4) this could be 15 minutes a day. With older children, it could be an hour once a week. Alternate who chooses the activity. Schedule the time on a calendar, so your children can look forward to it.

Start a bedtime ritual of sharing the “saddest” and “happiest” times during the day. Share first and invite your child to join in. You will be surprised what you learn. Listen, do not fix.

Give children meaningful jobs. In the name of expediency many parents and teachers do things that children could do for themselves and each other. Children feel a sense of belonging when they know that they make a real contribution. Change your approach regularly. Make it fun.

Decide together what jobs need to be done. Put them in a jar and let each child draw out a few each week. Then no one is stuck with the same chores all the time. Parents and teachers can invoke children to help them make the house and class rules and list them on a chart entitled, “We decided”. Children have ownership, motivation, and enthusiasm when they are included in the decisions.

Get children involved in creating a solution to a problem or situation, and in the creation of routines. Again, children feel a sense of belonging when they know that they make a real contribution.

Most of important, make sure the message of love gets through.

“I care about you! And I care about what happened. Let’s work on solving this together.”

Give lots of hugs!

And a big hug to you Jane Nelson for all these great tips!

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