When our first child was born, I went to visit a friend who is a mom of 11 kids. My friend gazed down at our cute little redheaded baby and said something about how nice that age is, before your kids can do things you don’t want them to do.

At the time, I naively thought kids “doing things I didn’t want” was something we wouldn’t have to deal with until the teen years.

What was I thinking?

I should have considered all the things that even just a one- or two-year-old child is capable of… hitting or kicking, saying “no” to everything, walking or running away from their parent, ad nauseam. (And older kids can do even more!)

Whether it’s your toddler having a meltdown in the aisle of the grocery store…
Or your child hits another child that they just met at the park…
Or your child says “no” when you ask them to take a bath…
Or your tween plays video games instead of doing their homework…
Or your teen stays on their phone way too late at night and then won’t get up in the morning.

For a lot of us parents, our child’s behavior is challenging. You might feel worried, overwhelmed, annoyed, angry, sad, hopeless, blame yourself, or even think that you’re a bad mom.

We’d like to offer you a new way to look at your child’s behavior.

On the blog, we’re listing 5 questions you can use when your child has “hard to manage” behavior.

Regardless of whether your child is a toddler or a teen, these questions are illuminating.

Illuminating = might cause mind-blowing, perspective-shifting, more connection and understanding, and insight into your relationship with your child.

When your child is doing something that you don’t like, these are questions you can ask yourself:


1. What is your child doing?

What can you actually observe? Hint: You can’t see a “not”. You can’t see a child not doing their homework. But you can see a child playing a video game.

2. What do you imagine your child is feeling?

Guesses are okay. Try to go deeper than happy, sad, or mad. What about disappointed, frustrated, fearful, hopefulness, annoyed, confused, hungry, tired, or worried?

Dr. Dan Siegel wrote that an important part of parenting is not just responding to our child’s behavior but also seeing and responding to their inner thoughts and feelings.

3. What need is your child attempting to meet by behaving that way?

Human needs are universal, although we each personally value some needs more than others. Hint: some common needs are: autonomy, connection, fun and recreation, belonging, being understood, communication.

4. When you see your child behaving that way, what are YOUR feelings?

Some options: Irritated, disappointed, grief, annoyed, sad, confused, worried, fearful, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, lonely, hungry, or tired.

5. What needs of yours are not being met when your child behaves this way?

Hint: Some common needs are safety, security, predictability, respect, order, peace, harmony, connection, being understood, etc

Leave your answers in the comments section we will use our favorites as an example in Part 2 to this post (and you’ll get some of our best coaching for your specific situation).

If, after reading the blog today, you’re interested in stuff like this WITH me… here’s how you join the Village.

You and I can personally talk in there if you’re struggling to figure out how to talk to your child.