I want the whole PIE, and why you should to...

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

I have always had a bit of a sweet-tooth. Especially when it comes to pie. Chocolate pie, cherry pie, apple pie, key lime pie... I want all the pies!!! Pies help me. Okay, actually eating pie doesn't help me but thinking of p.i.e.s, and what each letter stands for, allows me to better serve the needs of my children, students, clients and self. It aides in understanding and accessing behaviors and needs. Each piece of our pie needs to be complete.


P= physical


I= intellectual


E=emotional


S=spiritual or social. 



When a person's "pie" is incomplete he/she has difficulty learning, growing, and functioning.

How do you know if a child's P.I.E.S. is missing something? The easy part is knowing the child is missing something (tears and/or a tantrum are usually a red flag). The hard part, is knowing what it is that he/she is missing. It usually takes some investigating on your part. It may even take some documenting and/or consistent observing but you WILL figure it out. I am sure of it.


Here is how I look at each piece of the "pie":

Physical- It sounds simple but really it is one of the most complex pieces of the pie... Is she tired, cold, hungry, hot, sick? Does he need to move about?  Is he over or under stimulated (visually, auditory, etc.)? As adults we have learned to adapt to our physical and sensory needs and make adjustments accordingly. We know when sounds need to be eliminated, a walk outside is warranted, and an extra blanket is necessary. Initially, children aren't aware of these things. This is something we have to teach.

We have to look at all modalities (listening/hearing, watching/vision, touching/sensory, doing/body kinesthetic) and teach our children (and students/clients) to adapt appropriately. 

Intellectual- Is he/she participating in something too cognitively challenging or not challenging enough? As a speech pathologist I look at the expressive component of this too. Is she able to express what she wants/needs/desires? Does he understand what is being asked of him? Is she able to follow the directions/command? Are the directions too complex? A child's ability should not be understated here. Many times break downs happen because we are asking too much. So, we need to make adjustments in our requests. Maybe Johnny needs you to show him what you want him to do, or maybe you need to modify your choices in vocabulary. Maybe you just gave him too many steps to remember.

Emotional- Emotions are complex (Boy aren't they ever!) and are closely related to the other pieces of the pie. They are important to recognize and to address as they become part of our personality, temperament, and motivation. When assessing this area you have to ask two part questions. Is he lonely, angry, frustrated, happy, confused, sad, mad, etc-- and why? Your emotions can become a barometer in your life, letting you know when you have had enough or when you need more. I believe that by talking with young children about emotions we can provide them with the tools needed to choose more positive feelings over negative ones. Teaching them that it is their choice is critical.  I believe that learning the skill of choosing to be happy verses sad and optimistic verses pessimistic starts at an early age.  (And we never stop fine tuning this skill.)

Spiritual/Social- For younger children I look at social verses spiritual; however, you may address your needs to believe in a higher power and be part of a greater purpose. Are her needs of friendship being fulfilled? When was the last time she played with another child? How many peers are in his life and are they compatible friends? What are his play skills? Is he able to take turns and initiate play with peers? How does he deal with conflict during play? Teaching appropriate play skills can be challenging but it is critical in a child's overall development. 

Looking at each piece of your child's "pie" (I hope) will help you better understand, learn, and parent your child. I know that this has absolutely helped me... I hope that by sharing this you will add more tools to your parenting tool box and they will have a positive impact on your life.

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