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Respecting the cravings of children By Padmashree Family Counsellor, Emotion Scientist

Yesterday, I saw a girl licking away at the cream of the cake that she received from the birthday boy. Her hands were full of cream and her mouth also. I had a parental urge to tell her, “Oh gosh, look at you. How dirty you’ve made yourself. Stop licking that cream like that and go clean yourself”. Haha Yes, that’s the mother's instinct. As a mother I want my child to look good, smell good and be clean also. When onlookers appreciate the child, it’s like appreciating me. I feel approved. But by doing this my needs are getting fulfilled. But what about my child’s needs? Yes, children have needs and cravings that are so small and silly in our perception. Like the child who was enjoying licking the cream. She was so happy and calm when she was eating that cream. She was fulfilling her cravings and urges which were harmless. Isn’t it? That fulfillment of a simple need of hers would have given her completeness. But when a mother discards that need by saying “what a mess”, not only is she making the child feel disappointed about herself but also giving a message that you should not have such silly and unclean needs. This leaves the child either feeling ashamed of themself or angry with the mother that she’s always interfering. Either way, the child is left stuck and incomplete about those unfulfilled needs which could show up in different forms as she grows up. As adults, we need to realize that a child has their own mind and need not think like us. They have their own thinking, needs, and urges which may be very different from ours and sometimes those, that society may not agree with. Instead, as a mother I can validate her cravings, needs, and her action by saying, “Looks like my darling is finding pleasure in licking the cream? That’s so nice isn’t it? Ok, enjoy eating that but after you finish, I would want you to clean yourself fully. Would you?”. This communication would validate the child, leaving her thinking it’s ok to fulfill her needs and also give her the responsibility to clean herself after the indulgence. This way I got my need also met of seeing my child clean. Ufff…. So much so for communication. Wow So as parents, let’s not only look at what’s good and bad, right and wrong but keep in mind the needs of the child and ask ourselves a question “what need of my child is getting met when my child is throwing a tantrum ?”. And allow the child to fulfill that need if it’s harmless. Watch the child from a distance if you feel the need to. This way of being needs to be practiced because we were not handled this way as children. We end up raising children either the way our parents raised us or the opposite of the way they raised us because we didn’t like our parents' way of raising us. These are the learned ways and may not fit the present generation. Our children are in a very different world and we need to pause and think “Am I pushing myself on my child?” Or “Am I facilitating my child’s growth by respecting my needs?”. Let’s start to question ourselves to learn these new ways.
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