The four key C’s for a more resilient and confident Child

by 12.12.2022

Every parent wants to give the best to their child. What is the reason then that we differ so much in our educational approaches?

Why do we hear from our parents, who are now grandparents, “We didn’t teach you like that”, “It wasn’t like that in our time”, “Shouldn’t we instead do this…”

The truth is that each generation grows and develops according to the time in which they live according to the standards of the society of that time, which require certain qualities from the person for that person to be adequate in the labor market, to create a home and family to fit into a given community. And apart from that, every family has its own value system and arranges its daily life and rules according to it.

All of us – both adults and children – have basic needs. The physical ones are well known – food, water, sleep and shelter. 

According to Alfred Adler’s theory, there are four psychological needs, and his follower Betty Lou Bettner systematizes them in a very suitable way for the average reader and calls them “The Four Key Cs”.

  1. “C” is for Connected – every person, regardless of age, from the youngest baby to the oldest sage, would like to be part of some community – family, primary school group, school, work environment, etc. Many people leave a certain environment because “it’s not theirs” or “they don’t feel in their place”.

To feel connected, we need an emotionally supportive relationship with the other members – to be welcomed, and accepted as we are.

At the same time, we want to know the rules of the group. Every group and every situation has its own rules. For example – have you felt unsafe driving on a road without road signs – wondering if you are speeding, if it is not a one-way road, if you have parked in a prohibited area….. However, if the road signs appear, even if we don’t like them, we already feel Safe. In fact, according to Adler’s theory, to be connected, we need indeed security, that is: clear, permanent rules and boundaries for acceptable behavior and clearly stated unchangeable consequences for breaking these rules. Every driver has paid a ticket for some kind of violation, but that doesn’t stop them from continuing to drive, right? It only gives him the clear awareness that they are part of the community of drivers, within which there are written rules and compliance with them is mandatory.

  1. “C” is for Capable – if we continue with the metaphor for drivers, this is the acquisition of skills. It’s unlikely that anyone learned to park from the first time. Probably everyone has asked someone more experienced to park the car or “drive” it out of a tight spot. But over time, after a person has already felt like a driver (they already belong to or  is, connected to this role), they continue their development and learn new things. They are the key to getting to the next C.
  2. “C” as Count – to know what our strengths are, as well as what our weaknesses are. And to be able to see ourselves as meaningful and valuable beings, not because we are the best of all or better than a particular person or the first, but because we are ourselves – good drivers and not-so-good cooks, for example. But not being faster than Schumacher doesn’t make us redundant as drivers. Everyone can contribute to their society with their strengths – one will be the person who often remembers to call to ask how we are doing, another will help us with heavy luggage, a third will advise us on which appliances to buy for home. Everyone has a different gift, talent, and strength and is valued precisely for that. Value – this is the desire to use our Capabilities in the society with which we are connected.
  3. “C” as Courage – the last step in this kind of pyramid of needs. There is no way to get to it if we haven’t climbed the previous three steps. Can you imagine overtaking a car on a two-way road if you got your license yesterday and still don’t dare say you’re a driver?! Courage – this is the confidence to try and fail, learn new things, and not because we will necessarily cope with them, but because of the experience – to check ourselves, not to prove ourselves to others; to experience something, not to have a certain result at all costs.

Having explained it for ourselves, let’s present it in a few words through the prism of child development:

  1. The child is born into their family. They cry and look for their mother, who will hug them, talk to them gently, rock them, caress them… gradually this happens to the father, grandparents – the child is already connected to their family, because they know that there they find understanding, care, love. They know that when they need a warm, supportive adult, they will find one. They  also knows that in this family there are certain rules that guide – “When we hit, the game stops”; “When we shout, what we say is not understood” etc. 
  2. The child is growing and learns to crawl, walk, pour a glass of  water by themself, put on their shoes, and choose their clothes.

Here it is the role of parents to spend the necessary time first for training the skill and then for experiments. Yes, the child will not achieve this quickly or perfectly, BUT they will do it alone and be proud of themself – both for the shoes on backwards, and for the blouse inside out, and for the glass of water that they spilled 3 times. But it will have acquired a skill- on the one hand to perform a specific activity, on the other hand – the skill to try, repeat, persevere and not give up.

  1. The child can now pour themself water. Maybe they will already want to pour a glass of water for  mom and dad too. This is Count. “I can do this FOR OTHERS TOO. And that makes me happy!”
  2. “I want to do this by myself,” says your child one day. And on this day you learn that they have grown, and you are doing well – not because you are perfect, but because you are effective! The effective parent knows that they  will not always be needed for every action by their child. Because only a Connected, Capable, Valued and Encouraged child can ask to do CONSTRUCTIVE things on their own. Without fear of failure but willing to learn, experience, explore, create, dream.

The four key “Cs” are practised and applied consciously, purposefully, slowly and patiently. Nothing should be done at any cost, just because the child has reached a certain age and it is written somewhere that the kid “should” be able to do something. When the child feels in the right place, they begin to walk only on the next steps. In every new environment that our child finds themself in – daycare, school – they will need to go through these stages in succession. Not everywhere will they meet people who know how to guide them through these C’s, but when they  have had this experience at home, they becomes more resilient, more confident and able to face the storms of life.

Why is the child yelling, screaming, kicking, stomping, threatening, not wanting to go to bed on time and just acting ‘normal’? Why does he or she decide to drink water, go to the toilet after we say “good night”? Why is it that just when we are in a hurry, the child decides that they  want other clothes? What should we do when the kids  acts like this? We will consider these and many more questions related to the social reasons for this in our next article “The Four Dances of Misunderstanding”. 

Expect soon!

Gergana Markova PhD, Marina Titeva