This post is part of the 30 Days Towards Connected Parenting Series.
As I’ve said before, parenting these days seems to be focused a lot on control instead of connection. Instead of working on and nourishing the relationships with their children, people are focused more on strategies and tips that will help them get their child to act how they want. Parents aim to shape their children into ‘good’ human beings. At first it seems like a reasonable goal. Isn’t it our job to teach our children?
But, what if we looked at things from our children’s point of view? How would it feel to be in a relationship with someone who was always trying to change you? What if we just accepted our children for who they are? Children are all unique and brilliant in their own ways. Let’s stop trying to make them all the same. Some are loud and full of energy, let’s celebrate that instead of trying to dampen their spirits. Some are quiet and reserved, let’s respect that and allow them the time and space they need.
Let’s reassess how we view our children. Instead of seeing certain traits as negative, lets embrace them as strengths! Your child isn’t ‘bossy’, she’s a confident leader. Your child isn’t loud, he’s passionate. Your child isn’t shy, she’s thoughtful. Your child isn’t too sensitive, he’s empathetic and nurturing. What a gift for a child to feel like they are perfect as they are. To feel that they don’t need to ‘perform’ or be constantly trying to do better. How empowering not to be boxed in by labels, be compared to others, or have to live up to someone else’s standards.
Our parenting should also reflect our acceptance of our children. Constantly focusing on correction does not lead to children who feel accepted. Punishment, shaming, arbitrary rules, yelling, bribery, and rewards get in the way of genuine connection. Now this doesn’t mean being a permissive parent! It is our job to keep our children safe, and to guide them to being respectful of others too. But we can do this without any ‘behavioural techniques’. Instead of focusing on doing something to our children, we try to work with them. Just as you would with a partner or friend. You would respect that they are an individual and not attempt to change them. Instead you would work together to come to solutions that you are both happy with. The same can apply to children.
When you feel the need to correct your child, stop and focus on connecting first! Get down on their level, comfort them if needed, validate their feelings, and problem solve together. Guide them to make good decisions in a non-punitive way, and support them when things don’t go to plan. Love them unconditionally so they know that they are valued and accepted even when they make mistakes.
Find moments to connect instead of correct today. Show your children they are supported and accepted for who they are.