Workshop Getting our needs met


  • Understand how stress and the brain are linked.
  • Identify stressors and their possible causes.
  • Develop strategies for keeping calm during parenting challenges.


As pairs, or in a whole group, think about and discuss:

  • If you had a whole day off from the kids, how would you like to spend your time?

Write the following statement on the whiteboard:

‘Negative behaviour is a result of not getting our needs met.’

Discuss as a group:

  • What do you think about this statement?
  • Is it always true? Sometimes?
  • Or is it false?

Talk in pairs about a time recently where you behaved quite negatively.

  1. How did you feel afterwards?
  2. What needs might not have been met for you?
  3. What role did others play in your experience?
  4. How could you have acted differently?

Ask for volunteers to share back to the whole group. Offer your own example if the group is slow to share.

Write responses in four columns on the whiteboard or chart paper to help see a bigger picture of stress.

In a new pair, talk about the last time one of your children ‘lost the plot’ and behaved negatively.

  • What needs might not have been met for them?
  • What was your role in the situation?
  • How did you manage it?
  • What was the result for the child?

Extension activities

  • Reminder cards. Have plain business-sized cards for participants to decorate and write a message to themselves about ‘What I’ll do next time I feel stressed…’ (and don’t want my behaviour to blow up into a negative scene).
  • Talk about singing as a relaxation technique. Have some simple waiata to use as energisers — for example, ‘Tohorā nui’—‘Big whale’.Opens in new window This includes song, action and laughter, which are great endorphin releasers.
  • Have music playing during the pairs’ sharing sessions. It can provide some background noise, and when you stop it, it signals that you’d like them to wrap up and return their focus to the full group.


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