What does our loved one's behaviour tell us about what they need?

Although we may struggle at times when our child is behaving in a way we experience as difficult, more often than not we are able to understand that behaviour as a way our child is communicating to us about their experience, and what they need. For example - my little one is screaming and waving his arms and legs about. I realise he is hungry, and so rather than punishing his behaviour, I make him something to eat. I may also use this as an opportunity to teach my child about the connection between what he is doing and how he is feeling, so I may say "You're so hungry right now! Would you like a sandwich?" Often we expect that as adults, we will never have these moments - where we are unable to connect our behaviour to our feelings, and to what is going on for us. It may be difficult to be as understanding with ourselves or our partners when we have these moments - where we do the adult version of the little one who has a meltdown when he is hungry, or overtired, or overwhelmed for some other reason. It's so important that we treat each other as gently as we would treat our children in those moments. That we find a way to understand what is going on that may explain difficult behaviour, and to respond to the underying need, rather than to respond punitively to behaviour we may find difficult. We all have moments where we may need our partner, family member or friend to show this level of understanding, and to respond to what it is we need. Unlike a small child, what we may need is space, or a chance to talk about what is going on. Wherever possible, when we can respond to our loved ones in a way that is gentle and curious about what is going on for them, rather than judging the way they may be communicating this, issues are not only more likely to be better understood, but also more effectively resolved.We may additionally feel more connected to our loved ones, both when we are the one who responds or is being responded to in this way. Any of us may have moments when the demands of life may feel overwhelming and our ability to cope may be stretched. It's so important we can create an environment where we can understand and attend to each others needs for nurturance and support, as well as limiting extreme expressions of these needs that may feel unsafe for those closest to us.

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