See It In Your Child Video: The Child’s Need To Belong

the child's need to belong

We all need to feel like we belong. Children’s behavior is directed towards getting the emotional connection of belonging.

Watch this video to learn about four basic, yet unconscious, goals that drive our children’s behavior.

You’ll learn how these goals, when met, make for a child who is happy, cooperative, self-motivated and self-aware.

Download the accompanying article here.

Download the MP3 file here.

7 Responses to “See It In Your Child Video: The Child’s Need To Belong”

  1. Hello Maren,
    Your video was informative, relatable, and you were gorgeous as ever. :o)

    I have a question regarding my oldest daughter’s tendency to tell her little sister to do the opposite of what I have told or want her to do. Any suggestions or insight, please!

    • Tamara,

      Thanks for all the compliments!

      With the bossy child, we need to look at how to help meet the goal of power.

      As I mention in the video and article, for the child that feels powerless we see rebellion. This child only feels like she belongs when she is the boss, or she is asserting that you can’t boss her around.

      To help with this goal of power we need to offer growing responsibility along with the corresponding freedom, and continue to encourage the child’s efforts to build new skills.

      Perhaps this Kids Talk article will give you some ideas of how to move forward:

      Let me know how it goes!

      • Maren,

        Thank you and I am sure your article will offer some more insight into my situation. What I like and really gained from your response was identifying her behavior as a “power” struggle. I didn’t originally see it as a power issue therefore I had a hard time labeling it as anything. I see how you came to that conclusion, despite her not doing the bad behavior, she is placing her sister in the line of fire for disobeying. Genius! as always. :o)

        Sincerely yours,


        • Well, I don’t know about genius. It’s more about the school of hard knocks!

          I’ve found it helpful to look at children’s behavior (and adults,too) using these four goals of belonging.

          It’s a quick question session to ask: How does this behavior relate to this person’s needs for personal power, contact, protection and withdrawal?

          Usually something comes up in the crystal ball!

  2. Sandra

    Hi Maren,

    Thanks for your thoughts on contact, they were helpful. I notice that by the time a child reaches the negative expression of withdrawal there is a lot of work to do. And I find that when I try and encourage the positive aspects of power, withdrawal etc. they are consistently resisted.

    For example, when many child (ren) withdraw and need some alone time, they will regularly pick up another activity -usually reading. This may help calm them but does not assist reflection; rather it becomes an escape. Accordingly, appropriate re-engagement becomes a further layer to address. How can we help change this dynamic?

    Thank you.

    P.S. I should mention these children are 10-12 and heading into as adolescence. Sidestepping is much harder than at 3-6!

    • Sandra,

      I see withdrawal as part of the process to calm the emotional brain.

      Sometimes we need to do something different and let our brain work in the background.

      As we read, and focus on something other than the problem we are directly involved, fresh insights can appear.

      This also happens when we wait to make a decision after we get a good night’s sleep. Or take a walk.

      Sometimes the “escape” does promote reflection in the long term.

      I think when we, as the guiding adults, can listen and guide the thinking process with our children we change the dynamic.

      But we need to give the children some time to calm themselves and reflect.

      I encourage adults to learn the problem solving tools to use with children that I teach in my online course, as these tools help us as adults show children systematic problem solving tools that they can use alone or in a group.

      Over the years, I’ve found that children who know these tools, and have the trust and respect of a guiding adult, come back from their period of withdrawal ready to engage and deal head on with the issue.

      To change the dynamic: Teach problem solving tools and use them daily. When children need to withdraw, respect that, knowing when they are ready to re-engage you can listen and use problem solving tools with them to aid their self-reflection.

      Also, my May video will deal with how to help with the goal of withdrawal.


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