The other day I was having a conversation with a friend who has some issues with her teenager. I normally write about learning ideas for younger children, but I thought it would be a very useful topic for all parents to consider.
In this case, the young adult child is reserved and not very keen to cooperate or communicate, and the parents are observing a victim mindset setting in – i.e. blaming everyone except himself.
I would like to start by sharing my understanding of behaviour. Referring to Pam Leo: Connection Parenting: Parenting through connections instead of Coercion. Behaviors, whether coming from a child or an adult, is a communication of unmet needs. It is a communication of what we have right now and what we want, and is NEED driven.
Whatever your child's behaviours are, I will always revert back to connections – the connections between you and your child. If you are on my mailing list long enough, you will notice that the main topic that I talk about is the connections between yourself, your children and your family.
As a parent, your most important job is to create loving connections with your children. This job means establishing a strong relationships with them and so bonding.
Your children's behaviour is relative to how connected they are with you, i.e. parent or primary carer, and how their needs are met. A child who has good relationships with their parents, will generally be contented, motivated, happier and connected to who they are. Children's motivation to cooperate comes from the feeling of connectedness.
So what does a connected parent-child look like? Or in other words, how do you create respectful and loving connections with your children?
Communication – Be respectful
How you talk to your child and how you listen to your child, will lead to either connections or conflict. Speak to your children as though you are speaking to a good friend. Respect the words that you share with your children, and be emotionally available when your children share their world with you.
Be respectful, as it takes a lot of courage and trust for your children to open up and share their inner most needs to you.
When your children feel heard and respected, they feel valued and loved. This means bridging the connections and building trust between you and your children. Through trust and connections, that's how you build your influence with your children. If there is lack of positive influence, parents tend to resort to coercion.
Listen and respond with love. Do not react with fear.
Remember, behavior is a communication of needs. Children can sometimes communicate in hurtful ways. Most of the time they do not mean what they say; they do not mean to hurt you, so don't take it personally. The reason when they lash out or say hurtful things is because they are hurting inside, and in order to release their emotional hurt, they lash out.
However, if a parent reacts to the child’s hurtful remark by yelling back, criticising or threatening them etc., it is hurtful to your child. This conflict may cause the connections between you and your child to be "broken". Your child will feel attacked and he will choose to either fight back – yell or argue back or flight – totally ignoring what you have to say. Thus, there is less motivation for the child to confide, communicate or trust the parents as he or she does not feel safe to do so.
Therefore, when your child is resisting and avoiding communicating with you, you need to be more connected and pay more attention to his behaviour, his words, his energy, his body language … What is he trying to communicate, and reframe from reacting from your own issues. Stay tuned to his communications.
Make one-on-one time with him. One on one time is essential to maintaining close connections with your child. When you make time for your children, you are telling them they are “important” and they are your “priority”. You child will feel valued and loved. This is how they fill their love cups.
This opportunity also gives you an opportunity to know your child better, so that you know how to fill his love cup. Invite him for a meal or just spend some quality time outside the home visiting the beach, grocery shopping or watching a movie together etc.
It is NEVER too late. Make the commitment and start connecting!
Have a connected day with your family.