How many times have you thought, (maybe said out aloud) ‘if only I had a magic wand’….the power too, have your child listen more, cooperate, follow your instructions, tidy up after themselves, stop talking back, quit shopping centre tantrums, eat more of the stuff that’s healthy…
Well, if you’re anything like me, its argh…let’s just say more than a few times.
After obtaining my degree in Psychology, and journeying down a path focusing on child and family, surely I would be equipped with all the understanding and strategies I would need to shape the behavior of children, including my own…
Yup, some may say that’s totally naïve…theory does not equal practice, others may say…well yeh shouldn’t you?!? (I share a little more about this on my previous blog post).
You see what we were taught as the basic but critical steps to managing behavior are stimulus and response; you know…behavior charts, rewards, boundaries, consequences. And as parents, we are often given a very simplified message about what should/shouldn’t drive our children’s behaviour.
A few years of practice as a child therapist later, and raising three children of my own, I now know, without a doubt, question or inkling of uncertainty…the way we shape a child’s behavior is much more complex than the reward and consequence, two step instructions, and 123 magic.
I can hear your virtual shouts from where I’m sitting…’GIVE US THE MAGIC WAND’…
Mama Being Frank….this little piece of insight may not be magic….but it certainly is powerful.
It helps us as parents understand what our child is trying to communicate through their behaviour, and helps to foster the cooperation we hope to seek from them. Win Win?!?!?!?!?!
This thing that I’m referring to is CONNECTION.
More and more research is being released which gives evidence to the often viewed ‘fad’ of attachment parenting. Research, as well as experience, shows us that by focusing our parenting on building, fostering and supporting a strong connection with our children, magic really does happen.
One of the well-respected guru’s of child psychology, Dr Daniel Siegal educates us on the neuroscience behind this idea. With the take home message, before trying to correct or ‘manage’ a child’s behaviour, we first need to CONNECT with where they are at emotionally. And the rational isn’t because this is the most nurturing and empathetic way to relate to children (even though it is), its because that’s how our brain is wired. If we are emotionally in a place where we are not ok (upset, angry, annoyed, frustrated, worried…) our brain’a physiology is not in the right space to ‘think’ clearly, make good decisions, or compromise, or do any of those other high order functions.
So, if children feel safe within a trusting, warm, predictable, care giver relationship, they are likely to reach a state of calm, more quickly, knowing that there parent can respond with understanding and kindness, helping them to work through their big feelings.
If they feel a strong connection with their parent, if they know they are loved, if they know they are important, if they know their parent ‘gets them’ or is at least doing their best to understand them, they are more likely to cooperate, communicate and learn.
So, the magic lies in the relationship between you and your little love.
Follow the link below for a tip sheet on an achievable and powerful way to ‘super charge’ the connection between you and your child.