I live in a big city and witness people being curt, mean, and yelling at each other every day. Itâ€™s as if no one cares how others are feeling anymore. I see anger rise between spouses, partners, parents, kids, and strangers, causing them to feel isolated and alone. The lost connection causes them to remain angry and spread their anger from one person or situation to another. Itâ€™s the kick-the-dog syndrome.
How do we begin connecting again?
No one person can fix humanity, but as parents, we can reconnect as we correct behavior which will raise a generation that understands the importance of empathy, mindfulness, and connecting to others, and we all know what a big deal that is these days.
Connecting Even When Correcting Your Childâ€™s Behavior
Reconnecting feels like a wave of authentic love that washes over you. It makes kids feel safe and creates a level of trust that prepares them to risk doing things they donâ€™t want to do.Â Reconnecting is one of the keys to inspiring kids to listen and cooperate.
You might be thinking, â€œOh no, not another touchy-feely way to parent. I yell at my kids the way my parents yelled at me, and I turned out just fine!â€
Connecting comes in many forms. Thereâ€™s the love or attention connection. Those connections are wonderful, and kids need those forms of connection every day.Â However, I want to talk about a lesser-known form of connection, the type of connection that prepares and enforces a behavior correction thatâ€™s about to take place.
Why bother, you ask? Great question!
Think about your childâ€™s face when you say, â€œWhat did you do?â€ â€œWhat were you thinking?â€ â€œWe donâ€™t do that in this house!â€
Their expression reflects that they have retreated inward to protect themselves from what they know is coming, fear, shame, scolding, yelling, and eventually punishment of some kind. And then, after all that, we expect them to be remorseful, listen and cooperate. Not likely. But, we can change all that by reconnecting in a precise way before correcting.
Here are two words, and the specific way to use them, that allow you to connect as you correct behavior. They are questions that begin with â€œhowâ€ and â€œwhatâ€.
FYI: This is just one of the things we focus on in The Motherhood Lab.
Begin any inquiry into your childâ€™s behavior by connecting to feelings first, so your child feels seen, heard, and trusts you enough to risk doing what comes next, having their behavior corrected. Make no mistake, for a child, owning your actions, words, and behavior is challenging on many levels.
Ask specific questions like;
â€œHow upset are you?â€
â€œHow did her words make you feel?â€
â€œOn a scale of 1-10, how mad are you?â€
â€œHow do you think you should have handled this?â€
â€œHow are you feeling now?â€
Shift to â€œWhatâ€ Questions
All parents realize they have to correct behavior, so their child learns. The key to successfully correcting behavior without damaging your childâ€™s spirit is how you frame the next part of the conversation, the correction.
Beginning a question with â€œwhatâ€ allows you to remain connected without switching off any parental authority.
FYI: It is helpful to post your familyâ€™s rules and boundaries somewhere that you can point to them after you ask the following questions.
â€œWhat are the rules in our house when you hit a friend?â€
â€œWhat are you supposed to do instead?â€
â€œWhat will you be doing now to fix his hurt feelings?â€
â€œWhat else happens in our house when we hurt someoneâ€™s feelings or body?â€
When the words â€œhowâ€ and â€œwhatâ€ are used as part of the correction process, they fill the needs of both parent and child by steering each of them away from anger. The child feels seen and heard, which further reduces power struggles. And the parent remains calmer and can truly teach what needs to be taught without relying on reactions and punishment.
Did this make sense?
If so, join us for The Motherhood Lab, where youâ€™ll find more ways to connect as you correct.
FYI: The doors close on Tuesday, May 31, @ midnight, and the price for the next lab will be going up for our next session, so you us today. www.proactiveparenting.net/lab