Connecting When It's Difficult
I've mentioned before that the key to peaceful parenting and positive discipline is connection. It seems like connecting with your child should be so obvious and easy - but sometimes it's not! All parents - the best parents - have moments of disconnection with their children.
Children feel these moments of disconnection more intensely than their parents do and sometimes their reactions (behaviors) are hard to understand. It is always a good idea to come back to connection. It is always a good idea to ask yourself - is it difficult to connect when my child needs that the most? Is this behavior really a cry for love?
In this post I gave a long list of ideas for connecting with your child. Here are some ideas for connecting when it's difficult:
- Try special time. Take twenty minutes, set a timer, and give your child your absolute undivided attention for those twenty minutes. Follow your child's lead in play and activity. No answering the phone, checking on the pot roast, or attending to a sibling. If you have a relationship that needs repairing, putting special time into your daily routine will make a huge difference.
- Observe your child. Hone in on what makes them tick, what makes them happy, what is their love language, and what helps them feel unconditionally loved. Do more of that!
- Make up stories to tell your child.
- Apologize when you make a mistake, when you overreact, or when you yell or express anger in a way that scares your child. This is not just important for re-connecting, it's also good role-modeling.
- Give your child lots of physical attention. Some kids will love snuggling up or rocking together while you sing a lullaby. Other kids will prefer to play a big wild game of tag, wrestling, or tickling.
- Join in on your child's favorite activities. Put your child's favorite activities into your rhythm.
- Put connection into your rhythm. Make sure your days include relaxed time to be together for morning and evening routines, reading aloud, family activities, and sitting down to meals together. Stick to your rhythm and let connection be something your child can absolutely count on as a regular part of the routine.
- Write a love note or draw a picture for your child.
- Be the grownup. Recognize that adults can have hurt feelings as well and can feel rejected when their child pushes them away. But don’t let that stop you from reaching back out! Realize that even if you are hurt and angry, your child is not only hurt and angry but also scared and does not have the social and emotional skills that you have.
- Meditate on your child. Take time to sit in quiet and picture the struggles you are having with your child and ask for help (pray if that is your practice). Then picture your child at his best and brightest and hold that picture of your shining child in your mind.