What is it?
We just can’t help ourselves. We can see that the child is going to ‘fight back’, we feel a bit out of control and we know this isn’t going to go well, but we forge into correcting our children anyway. Why do we do this? Because we’re human. We are desperate for them to ‘turn out right” and there’s real fear of:
letting him ‘get away’ with something
her never being responsible if she doesn’t do this RIGHT NOW
him being awful and disrespectful his entire life
(Just remember: we ALL do it, so give yourself a break. And when it goes wrong, you can always Repair.)
The Simple Science
The right side of the brain is the emotional part (feelings, imagination) and the left side is the logical (reasoning, analytics). We need both sides of the brain to function well. When a child is overwhelmed, the right brain takes over. This makes them feel threatened or unsafe -- it actually feels uncomfortable.
What then happens is that logic won't work until we address the right brain's emotional needs.
How to Address It?
Children DO better when they FEEL better. Connecting is helping children feel better so that they are able to do what you are asking. This is not about pampering, fixing, rescuing, enabling...it is allowing them to have their feelings (which will pass) so that they can learn to survive the inevitable ups and downs of life and feel capable in the process (this is called resilience!).
Correcting is helping them to make a good choice: say that more respectfully, do the chores even though you don’t feel like it, come up with a solution other than hitting your sister.
Your Script in Action
Having empathy for what they are feeling is the most effective way to connect. Here are some starters:
Validate Feelings: “Ohhh, I know how much you want that, and I’m so sorry that you can’t have it now.”
Go Back to the Agreement: “I totally get why you don’t feel vacuuming the living room...and what did we agree?” (not sarcastically and then just stop: they know)
Show Understanding: This video game looks like so much fun - oh my gosh, did you just beat that car?! This is way more fun than homework. And homework needs to be done so why don’t you take 2 minutes to finish up.
GOT A MINUTE?
The next time you can feel that disagreement coming on, connect. And see what happens. Then correct. When it works and you feel good, your brain starts wiring in the habit of connecting first. Remember, it’s not easy. If you want support, give me a call.
You don't have to do it alone. I've been there, and I can help. Reply to this email or call for a free consult - let's see if we're a fit.
Mary Smith Parent Coach is passionate about sharing practical, powerful habits that take one minute with parents to simply and quickly sow the roots of connection and engagement with their children while creating calm in the household.
I've Been There! Sincerely, Mary