One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a Positive Discipline educator is that belonging and significance are the primary goals of children.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a parent is that I am not connecting with my children as much as I would like to in order to create that feeling of belonging, and I do not provide as many opportunities for contribution (which lead to that feeling of significance) as I would like to.
In the midst of the school year and sports and band and after school activities and homework, those opportunities for connection seem to be harder and harder for me to take advantage of.
How many times have we as parents complained about our kids’ willingness (or total lack of it) to help out around the house and contribute?
I know I do it all the time. And the thing I so easily forget is that the more connection I have with my kids, the more I will motivate and inspire them to willingly contribute and help out.
When is it hardest for me to connect with my kids?
When they piss me off.
Oh boy, is it so easy to launch directly into attack mode when they are doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. Or when they aren’t doing stuff they know they should be doing.
Creating a connection before we correct our kids allows them to feel a sense of belonging and significance even when they’ve messed up.
The the next time your daughter breaks something in the house when she was doing something you told her not to do a million times before, or the next time your son takes your $20 lipstick and smears it all over the bathroom, here are six strategies your can employ to make sure your children know that no matter what they’ve done, above all, you love them.
(Yes, even after they flushed a Fisher Price action figure down the toilet and you had to replace then entire thing).
1. Get to eye level with your kid.
2. Listen first, talk last. (That one is so hard for me!)
3. Validate your child’s feelings without rescuing or fixing.
4. Be supportive when allowing your kids to experience the consequences of their choices (but don’t impose consequences on them).
5. Let your kid (and yourself) cool off. Then focus on solutions.
6. HUGS. Yes, even when your kids mess up. Especially when your kids mess up.
These are not the only ways you can connect before you correct, but remembering these six things will allow that message of love to get through first, even when what you really want to do is rip clumps of your own hair out.