Have you ever met someone who didn’t have a solid base of knowing that they have everything they need? I see this lot in adults. I’ll meet people who get extremely upset when they don’t get what they want. Or they never feel satisfied with the things that they have. They seem to mix up needs and wants. Enough is never enough. It’s one thing to witness this behavior in an adult. Adults with these tendencies normally make me frustrated and short, but when I witnessed this behavior in my tiny foster daughter, it simply broke my heart.
When little bit came to me, she didn’t know what it felt like to have all of her needs met. Her foundation of safety and security was as wobbly as an 11 month old trying to walk. I was quick to show her that she would always have food to eat and a warm bed to sleep in, but it took months before she gained the confidence she needed to know that every single one of her needs would be met.
In those early months I absolutely feared every time someone gave her a gift. More often than not, she threw that gift on the ground and screamed that she hated it. The weeks leading up to her birthday, it got to the point where we practiced over and over again how to smile and say thank you when receiving a gift you don’t like. Like legit practiced, fake gifts and all. She was rarely satisfied with anything, and she melted down any instant she was told no.
At first I didn’t understand. I talk to her about thankfulness and how in this house we are thankful for every gift we are ever given- no matter what. I talked to her about respect and treating others how we want to be treated. But after some time, I realized that this was not what she really needed to hear. What she needed to know was that she had enough– that she had everything she needed already in our home, and that fulfilled wants were just icing on top the cake.
What she needed to know was that she had enough– that she had everything she needed already in our home, and that fulfilled wants were just icing on top the cake.
When little bit felt like she didn’t have what she needed, and her foundation was shaky, she confused needs with wants. If she received a gift that was not what she absolutely wanted, if felt to her as if she were never going to receive the things that her heart most desires. It’s a lot like when you don’t eat a good solid meal and the rest of the day you just want and want more junk food. Her deepest needs were empty and she wanted to fill those bad boys with as many shopkins and hatchimals as she could.
I still teach little bit everyday about thankfulness and respect, but now I also remind her that she is has everything that she needs and that she can depend on me to support her. Before we thank God at night for our toys, we thank God for our food, for our clean home, for our warm bed, and for our loving family. Like any little kid, she still says “aaawweeee come on!!” when I tell her she cannot have a toy from the grocery store, but now I’ll find her saying things like “would you like some of my [insert current most valuable prized possession], I have extra”.
It is so easy to confuse needs and wants, but I am so lucky to have people around me who support my needs, so that I can support hers.