What do your children need?

girl on swingSTIMULATION, RECOGNITION AND CERTAINTY

Do any of these complaints sound familiar?

My Marcie whines and demands, especially when I don’t have time to give to her.
Andrew just seems flat. I offer him the same thing over and over and he doesn’t respond, so I leave him alone.
My Elena flouts the rules and laughs at my anger.

If you have a similar lament, it may be time to try out some different ways of parenting or of understanding yourself.
Hearing these laments as part of the “SRC triangle” can help us deal with them. SRC stands for the psychological hunger for stimulation, recognition and certainty. These three human hungers can at times push aside needs for sleep or for food.
We need to feel alive(stimulated), acknowledged (recognised) and safe (certain).If we can’t get the one we need, we try to make do by substituting one of the others, but it is never quite satisfying.

So the three points on a triangle are:

Let’s do something! – Hunger to be energised and vital.
Look at me! – Hunger to be acknowledged and considered valuable.
Who’s in charge here?- Hunger for a framework in which to feel safe and confident and to get stimulation and recognition safely and appropriately.

As a parent, you can think about the following questions:

• Am I providing a balance of stimulation, recognition and certainty for my children?
• Is one of them easier for me to offer so that I offer it at the expense of the others?
• Is one of my children clamouring for me to meet one of the hungers because she is not getting enough of another?
• When children are not responding well to our offers, we can remember that children, like adults, have widely different temperaments. The book by Helen Neville and Diane Clark Johnson Temperament Tools, Working with Your Child’s Inborn Traits helps us to do just that.
• Am I putting one of my unmet hungers onto the children instead of noticing what they need?
• Do I have stimulation, recognition and certainty balanced in my own life?
• Am I accepting the satisfaction of one hunger in place of another when I could do something to get that hunger met directly?

The three hungers are equally important. It is safest to offer a balance of all three.
Recognition
My Marcie whines and demands, especially when I don’t have time to give to her.
Marcie whining and demanding may be saying “ I need more recognition from you. I feel scared and angry when I am not sure if you value me”. The response: more time with Marcie, more loving and more noticing and commenting on what Marcie does.

Stimulation
Andrew just seems flat. I offer him the same thing over and over and he doesn’t respond, so I leave him alone.
Babies who are not touched and talked to languish or die. Andrew went flat.
We all need variety, action, challenge, excitement, touch. Andrew may need all of those.

Certainty
My Elena flouts the rules and laughs at my anger.
Elena might need a better structure. Her parents could develop consistency if the structure has been lax. Or they can loosen up the rigidity, if the structure has been too rigid. Too many limitations often result in rebellion, passivity, or manipulation rather than safety.

If you would like to explore this topic further, you are advised to read
Growing Up Again by Gean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *