First CONNECT – Then DIRECT

Parent connecting - istockTo begin discussing this topic I want you to say this phrase out loud, “THE KEY TO DIRECTING IS CONNECTING.”  Say this to yourself and think about the last time your little one was throwing a tantrum, screaming, slamming doors, refusing to cooperate and so on.  Try to recall how the situation played out. Did it end with the two of you screaming at each other?   Not speaking to one another?  More anger and frustration and still left without a solution to the problem?  If so, then ask yourself if you DIRECTED BEFORE YOU CONNECTED?

Sometimes we begin to direct, remind, and instruct our kids to change their behaviour before we do the most important step, connect.  If we remember and remind ourselves to CONNECT BEFORE WE DIRECT, we will be more successful in helping our kids to, not only, change their negative behaviour in the moment, but also will be more successful in helping the behaviour from re-occurring long-term.  It’s the act of connecting that helps your child start to feel good again and also lets them know that you are attempting to understand how they feel.  It shows them that you care.  That their feelings matter and are important to you.  In doing this it will make the directing more meaningful.

Lets take an example to help this all make sense.  Your child has been working very hard to build a block tower and you tell them that it’s time to go pick up big brother from school.  With this simple phrase of, “its time to go,” your child breaks out into a complete kicking, screaming, throw yourself onto the floor meltdown.  WHAT TO DO???  Sometimes we are in situations like this and we simply don’t know what to do.  For this particular scenario and others similar to this it’s important to remember to always CONNECT BEFORE WE DIRECT!! What do I meant by this?  What I mean is if we go in and just try to hug our kids during their massive meltdown, we are trying to comfort but we lack the true connection.  Connection is empathy but also understanding combined.  True connecting and empathy must have both understanding and love.  When we hug or try to calm them down we have missed the boat on the understanding portion of connecting.  This often leaves our kids feeling more frustrated.  So let them meltdown.  Say to them, “I can see how frustrating it is to have to stop building right now, maybe you should stomp a bit harder or scream a bit louder?”  Let them know that you know it’s upsetting to them.  Once you have their attention and they know you are listening to them and trying to understand them, then you can empathize and hug.  It’s at this point where you can finally direct.  Now, you can help them come up with a solution to make the transition feel better for them in the future.

Work with your child to CONNECT BEFORE YOU DIRECT and they will start feeling valued.  Their feelings will have validation and with this your parent-child relationship will grow and flourish.  Begin by getting yourself equipped with the tools and knowledge to tackle any parenting situation, which will help you throughout your parenting career from ages birth and on.  (For more information or one-on-one parent coaching packages) click the link!


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