SuperEgg, your example about your little one's toys and how she got to put them in any order she wanted so they'd be waiting for her after her nap, is awesome. You knew she needed a nap (and she may have actually known that also, somewhere inside her, even though she didn't want to leave those toys!), and you attended to that need. You also understood and attended to her need know her toys would be there for her.
I have another example of this kind of seeing, understanding and attending to what kids need...
It was just Halloween, as many of us are aware. People have a wide range of thoughts and feelings about Halloween, everything from "yawn, who cares" to "dude, let's party away the night" and everything in between.
I have an acquaintance who has several children. This family is on the "party away the night" end of the spectrum. The parents love to be out and about; the kids love to be out and about.
They got invited to no less than 3 different Halloween parties. That's all fine.
Here's where they began to run into a bit of trouble.
The kids said they wanted to go to ALL the parties (after all, the more parties, the more candy probably?! That was the kids' perspective). The parents wanted their kids to have fun. Also fine, in principle...
But the parents weren't able to see that by letting the kids go to so many parties, stay up very late, and eat candy till their stomachs couldn't hold any more, they weren't seeing, understanding or attending to what their kids truly needed.
I mean, fun is good, right? Sure. But structure, some decent limits, a good night's sleep, not getting overwhelmed with activity... those are really important.
There would have been a balance in this situation. It didn't have to be black and white. They could have had some fun AND gotten some sleep also. It didn't have to be all or nothing.
These are the kinds of situations that may not seem hugely problematic. And, if they happen once in awhile, it's not such a big deal. But, when a kid's needs are routinely and chronically unseen, misunderstood and left unattended to, it causes big problems. The kid, obviously, doesn't get what he/she needs, and that's a big enough problem. Equally as damaging: the kid learns to believe that he's not worth being seen, heard, understood and attended to.
And we all know what a big problem it is when someone learns to believe that, right? Right. The person ends up with deeply entrenched feelings and beliefs that he's not lovable and not an ok person. This is what we were talking about the other day, right? About how if you're a fuzzy bunny and you happen to be born into a porcupine-filled family, you can easily learn to believe you're weird or wrong.
Likewise, if you need a nap and your mommy isn't able to see that for whatever reason and/or isn't able to attend to that need for whatever reason, you're not only not going to not get your nap, you're easily going to learn to believe that you're not worth being taken care of- and that can easily turn into believing that you're not worth loving, and that you're not lovable.
Amazing how something as small seeming as a nap can have such importance!