The Two Critical Things Every Child Needs (And No Child Knows How To Ask For)

You give your children everything you can give them. Materially, yes… but mostly you give them yourself.

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You give them your time and your attention. No matter how exhausted you are, you’ll play one more round of Candy Land or patiently listen as they tell yet another story whose characters you cannot name.

You share your experience and your wisdom. Helping them to learn the lessons they need to learn - emotionally, socially, mentally - so they feel safe in the world.

You give them your affection, freely and frequently. Always showing them how much they matter to us so they believe your words when you say it out loud.

You give them every chance you wish you had so that they might live better than we did.

You give them opportunities and advantages. You chose a home in the best school district you could afford and you work to make sure they learn everything they possibly can - especially when they show interest in something.

You’ve given them your hopes and your dreams so they feel like they’re part of a better future.

But there are two things that many parents miss… two things your child is craving more than anything else.

Your Child’s Need #1: The Need To Belong

It shouldn’t be a surprise that your child wants to feel they belong. All people do.

We all want to feel as if we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves - that we’re surrounded by “our people,” and that we’re welcomed and wanted in the places we feel safest. For your child, that comes in many forms - friends, classmates, sports teams… but the most significant sense of belonging comes from you.

They want to know they’re loved. They want to FEEL that they’re loved. They want to feel that they have a space in your home and your life and your heart.

This belonging helps them feel safe and secure in where they stand in the world. It helps them feel worthy of love.

This is probably the one that you’re the most comfortable with. The one you do most naturally, without thinking about it.

You include them in your plans for the future. You consider them when you make decisions for the family. This consideration is essential to making them feel like they’re at home with you…

But there is a place where you might NOT be fostering belonging…

The Key To Building Belonging Is In How You Handle Behaviors

A parenting tool that I teach in Positive Discipline is Connection Before Correction. This ensures that discipline doesn’t come at the expense of the relationship you have with your child.

Because the relationship you have with your child is the crux of the safe space that makes your child feel that he belongs. That makes her feel secure.

But what’s more… research has shown that you actually begin to influence your child in a positive way when you foster that connection FIRST - which means the corrections will actually have more meaning.

And, often, the correction takes place naturally because of the connection.

Frankly, it’s the tool that I wished I had known earlier in my own parenting journey - I would have used it more consistently. But I didn’t know what it meant as a young mother, and it didn’t make it into the Positive Discipline tool library until after my own children were grown.

This tool is so powerful that all Positive Discipline tools are actually created to help this tool happen - it’s THAT important!

One of my favorite ways to use this is “I love you, but the answer is no.” It establishes the connection (I love you) and the correction in a respectful way.

Imagine being told no in this way. Wouldn’t you still feel safe… even if you didn’t get your way?

Your Child’s Need #2: The Need For Significance

When your child feels significant, he feels important and necessary. She feels like she’s making a difference with her presence and contribution.

This gives your child an inner sense of capability. They believe that they have the skills they need to be successful - whether it’s at school, in sports, in artistic pursuits, or to display appropriate behavior.

Sons and Father Playing basketball

This critical need is one that many parents today aren’t fulfilling the way their children need.

They’re not allowing their children to make decisions, or to have opinions. They’re not allowing them to make (and learn from!) mistakes that build real-life skills. They’re not allowing their children to learn the crucial things they need to learn to succeed as adults…

And it’s making your child feel unimportant.

We talked already about belonging - making them feel loved.

Now it’s about making them feel USEFUL.

That toddler who wants to help is showing you that he wants to be a part of the team.

The teenager who wants in on key decision making is showing you that she wants to have an opinion that matters.

The grade-school aged child who wants to participate in grown-up conversations is showing you that they want to have valuable knowledge and insight.

At every stage of their lives, your children are showing you that they desire significance for themselves. This is not the same as wanting attention. They want to contribute.

And of course… there are tools in Positive Discipline to help you create those opportunities for them.

My favorite:

The Family Meeting: The Ultimate Tool For Creating Significance In Your Children’s Lives

The Family Meeting is one of the most important tools in the Positive Discipline toolbox. It’s designed to give your children the opportunity to be heard, to contribute, and to see their ideas and opinions play out in real-life situations inside your home.

This allows you to build up their feelings of significance in a safe place - where mistakes are okay and nobody is playing the blame game.

With the family meeting, you’ll not only build significance… but you’ll also help reinforce the belonging your child craves as well.

You’ll turn your family into a team - a team that depends on one another, that looks to one another to help solve problems, and that has each other’s best interests in mind at all times.

It’s during your family meetings that you’ll instill the crucial sense of belonging and significance that your children will carry throughout their entire lives…

And where you’ll show them what a healthy relationship looks like. Because belonging and significance are not just childhood needs.

Even as adults we need to feel welcomed, safe, needed, and appreciated.

When you give these things to your child as they grow… they grow into adults who understand what they need to be happy.

They have a solid point of reference for healthy relationships - a barometer for all future relationships and what they are willing to accept from friends, romantic partners, even coworkers and bosses.

The Tools You Need To Easily Give Your Child What They Need

Look, it’s one thing to know that your child wants nothing more than belonging and significance from you.

It’s another thing entirely to know how to make it happen.

And chances are, you’re already trying to do many of the things you think are right. But you’re just not sure if what you’re doing is setting your child up for the kind of success you want them to have.

Since I first published the book on Positive Discipline in 1981, I’ve helped millions of families, parents, teachers, child care workers, and other youth-centric organizations around the world figure out how to improve behaviors AND teach healthy relationship dynamics. In fact, thousands of parents in 88 countries have become certified positive discipline parent educators or teacher educators.

And the one constant across the board - no matter location, age, or any other dynamic - is that no matter how good the intentions are… the execution is the hardest part.

Family tickle

My daughter Mary Nelsen Tamborski - who was raised with Positive Discipline, by the way - is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist… and she has seen the same thing with her patients.

That using the Positive Discipline tools to create connection and help your child build the capability they desperately want is a step-by-step process… one that works best when you have a guide to help you along the way.

Because tools like…

  • Connection Before Correction
  • The Family Meeting
  • Encouragement vs. Praise
  • Special Time for Connection
  • Take Time For Training
  • Small Steps
  • Natural Consequences
  • Mistakes
  • Jobs
  • Small Steps
  • Or any of the 30+ tools Mary and I teach on a daily basis…

Can be difficult to implement on your own.

Through the hands-on work we’ve done, we’ve realized that guiding families through successfully using all the tools at your disposal is critical to your success with them.

And now not only is Mary a Positive Discipline success story AND one of my beloved children … she’s also my favorite collaborator and the one who’s created this brand-new program with me.

Introducing Positive Discipline Made Easy: The Guide You Need To Give Your Child The Gift of Belonging and Significance

We wanted to make it easy for you to learn, understand, and USE Positive Discipline in your family right away… without having to connect the dots by yourself, figure out how to make it work for you, and second-guess yourself.

(Because you want so much to give your children exactly what they really need from you… you’re going to wonder if you’re doing it right. Not anymore with Positive Discipline Made Easy!)

We’ll show you exactly what you can use to handle each situation, circumstance, behavior, conflict, and disagreement that you’ll experience in your daily lives… AND how it has played out for families just like yours using real-life examples and stories.

We’ll not only review the theory so you understand WHY it’s important to handle each situation in a specific way… but we’re giving you the actual step-by-step tool to help you make it happen in your family.

The best part about these tools is that they are mix & match. Because you’ll naturally find tools that feel good to you - every parent has their favorites. And every situation has at least one tool - but most have multiple tools that you can use to not only build your child’s capability, skills, and self-sufficiency… but also increase your bond, improve your relationship, and make them feel safe and secure at all times.

With us on your side, you’ll feel empowered and energized to start right now.

Get Your Belonging & Significance Guide

The foundation of our Positive Discipline method - used by millions of parents, teachers, childcare workers, social workers and more - is the suite of tools that will help you navigate any and every challenge or situation your family faces.

Your kid won’t do their chores? … There’s a tool for that.

Your first born won’t talk to you about his day anymore? … There’s a tool for that.

You can’t get out the door on time and are always late for everything? … There’s a tool for that.

Your kid has figured out what learned helplessness is and how to use it against you?… There’s a tool for that.

Endless sibling bickering? Yup, you guessed it. There’s a tool for that, too

With over 30 parent-tested tools at your disposal, you’ll be armed for anything that comes your way.

And these tools don’t just work in the short term (though they do - you’ll be amazed at how fast your child begins to blossom and thrive when they realize their innermost needs are being met)…

These tools build skills for tomorrow.

They teach your children to build valuable skills and beliefs that will help them:

  • Know how to solve problems and handle conflict effectively and without drama, martyrdom, or escalation
  • Instill a strong moral and ethical compass that isn’t vulnerable to peer pressure, risky decision making, or social vampires
  • Develop the ever-critical problem solving skills needed to respond to the unexpected twists and turns of life
  • Learn resiliency and to trust themselves, their judgment and their abilities

In other words, these tools become the foundation of a happy home today, and a thriving life tomorrow.

And Mary and I will be there guiding you every step of the way to help you continually give your child what they need… so your home is harmonious, your children are thriving, and you all have the team-based relationship you all crave.

Because we ALL want to feel like we belong, and we ALL want to feel like we matter.

Your children are no different.

You CAN meet those needs for them inside your family. And along with it, have more cooperation, better behavior, more transparent communication… and a little less stress on your shoulders at the end of the day.

These tools will reshape your relationship with your child, make your household the smoothest it’s ever been, and remind you just how much you love being a parent.

Doesn’t that sound like a win-win situation?

I can’t wait for you to feel the positive effects in your home,


Jane Nelsen

Parent Without Yelling, Power Struggles and Guilt

  • Critical skills to raise happy, healthy kids
  • Make parenting the most fun you’ve ever had
  • Ensure your kids feel loved, accepted and understood
  • Co-parenting secrets to help your kids thrive
  • Common parenting mistakes you must avoid
  • Less tantrums and tears, more snuggles and laughter

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