Power outlets at one time were one of the most popular wall fixtures in my house. My kid loved to take the little safety cover out of the socket. He would show it to me. He would give it to me. He would hold onto it while he walked around the house. Then he would try to put it back in the socket.
We told him in every way shape and form that this is a forbidden toy. Yet he persists to play with them. Until we ignored it.
He was never interested in the socket. He was never interested in the socket cover. He was always interested in us engaging with him.
The entire time, this was about our attention.
We are not perfect parents by any measure. But we do give our kid quite a bit of attention. We out number him. It is easy to give him a pretty decent dose of attention.
And yet, for whatever reason, he decides sometimes, he needs extra attention.
He goes to the socket.
Our ‘Spidey Senses’ go off.
And we are on it like mustard on a hotdog. And the more we “ignore” it, the more he stopped it all together. And he will get a book for us to read or bring a toy for us to play with together.
He never wanted the outlet.
He wanted attention.
And in life, how can I be the exact same. Sometimes I get fired up over things that are not that big of a deal. Not because I actually am fired up, but because I know it will do the same goal. (Not proud of these moments even as they become less and less frequent.)
The essence of these actions are equal though, they are not about the outlet cover or the issue at hand. They are about getting a need filled through an alternative means. These needs are essential and they do need to filling. There are healthy ways of filling these needs. There are unhealthy ways of filling these needs. I am still figuring out how to fill my needs in a healthy way. My kid is also figuring out the same thing.
He is so my kid sometimes.
What needs do you fill in an unhealthy way? How can you work to fill your needs in a healthy way? Who can help you catch yourself when you are resorting to unhealthy methods? Who are you helping to catch themselves? Who is helping you process how to better fill your needs in a healthy way?