How do we know what our kids really want?

what do kids really want?

Pull up a chair and join in the chat. If someone asked you the question, ‘Do you know what your kids really want?’ what would you say? I don’t mean for Christmas, or their birthday – I mean, what is it they care about? What matters to them? What do they enjoy most, and what do they someday hope to become?

I know some people would struggle to tell me their kids’ birthdays, never mind what they’re really interested in, but I reckon it’s still worth asking. What do you think? And anyway, why does it matter? We’ve got enough to be getting on with without worrying about the ‘deep and meaningful’, right?

Trouble is, deep and meaningful is the stuff that ‘sticks’. It makes a difference. It’s what kids remember. We know they spell ‘love’ T.I.M.E because being with us matters so much to them. What else does? Because if we know what they really want – aside from the latest techno gizmo or pink fluffy android – then we can adjust our parenting to meet their needs.

It’s a bit like our kids have just handed us a map of where they want to go, but they can’t quite read all the signs yet. They need our help to interpret the colours, the contours and the squiggly lines. Can they get across that field and up that mountain? Can they reach that town without going through a city? Can they travel east when the road goes west? Yes they can! They’ll probably just need a bit of guidance and creative thinking from you and me to get them there. But if we don’t know where they’d like to go then we’ve got a problem. So how can we find out?

Ask them

• What do they like doing?
• What’s important to them?
• What would they like to do with their one wild and precious life?

Observe them

• How do they spend their free, unstructured time?
• Do they prefer to play alone or with other kids?
• What do they get enthusiastic about?
• Do they value gifts over words of praise, or time with you over gifts?

Listen to them

• Listen to what your child asks for most.
• What do they pester you to do several times a day, or week? That’s got to be a big clue.
• What do they complain about most? “Oh dad, you never have time to play with me/read to me/fix my bike.”

All these things are clues as to what your child values most and how you can make the best possible connection with them. And knowing where they want to go is the first step to helping them get there.

How do you keep in touch with what your kids value most? What tips would you recommend to others?

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

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  1. Graham
    4 years ago

    What a wonderful description of the simplicity of a child’s perception of life. How easily we complicate things and ask the wrong questions. I’m sure that as we grow older we need to get down ‘on all fours’ more often and see life from our kid’s level, think as they think, be more in tune with them. I’m sure it will make our interaction far more rewarding. Thanks for the insight Jackie.


  2. Jackie Charley
    4 years ago

    Yes, I think you’re right Graham. If we can’t see things from their perspective and understand what makes them tick and what they want, we’ll just never be able to help them get there. Here’s to a few more scuffed kness then!

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