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Are you wondering how you can connect more deeply with your child? Would you like to know how to talk to kids using peaceful conflict resolution strategies to ease tension, or calm aggressive behavior in your children? Often, we can be triggered by our own unresolved traumas – big and small – and this can make it extremely challenging to remain compassionate as we confront our kid’s big, explosive emotions. Kids are great at reminding us when we veer from the path. Love – Connection – Repair
Your kids feel it and RESPOND to it!! The biggest challenge to using the kind of respectful language that you want your kids to emulate is your own patterns of behavior and habits of reacting, which are based on FEAR. The emotional baggage that you carry around can be unzipped without your consent. Then, you unleash unrestrained emotions and actions driven by automatic unconscious memories and feelings. Your past can trip you up, triggering you into reactionary patterns, and causing you to get stuck in a cycle of disrespect, defiance and demands. If you had a punitive childhood — Can you think back to a time when you were younger, smaller, less experienced – maybe some time in the first 10-15 years of life when you were judged for your behavior, or maybe punished, shamed or isolated? Maybe it was a time you felt unheard as you tried to explain your thought process or you felt anxious or angry as you tried to get what you needed. What did it feel like to be evaluated and told that you were naughty, ungrateful, a mess, trouble, or that you would suffer consequences or be isolated from peers, family or activities you loved if you did not listen. What parts of your body are awakened when you let those emotions surface now? Now, what would it have felt like if the adults in your life had…
- Held the limits firmly, with compassion and non-judgment for your less than experienced ways?
- Calmed their anger and approached you with an honest intention to help rather than control or convince?
- Maintained tolerance for your youthful curiosity and patience for your unskilled demands and bargaining?
What would it be like if we could spend the first 20 years of our lives hearing that we were doing our best? When we feel understood, we can hear and process NEW information. Whenever you go in with the attitude of “you’re wrong” – in return you are likely to receive defensiveness. Assumptions (right or wrong) tend to cause the other person to shut down to anything you have to say because no one likes to be accused of being “wrong.” Compassionate requests are more likely to get you heard. Fear gives us an easy, seemingly negligible, tool to use for obedience. A raised eyebrow coupled with a certain tone – “growly” as my daughter’s favorite book character “Junie B Jones” would say – are sometimes effective, but only sometimes. Ultimately, fear keeps us focused on the outcome – it leads us to want to control behavior so we can feel better faster but what does that teach kids about the world?
- that others can influence our behavior (rather than lead us to reflect on how our behavior has affected others).
- that it is okay to use our power to dominate others.
- that it doesn’t matter what we think or feel – we simply must obey.
Consciously parenting is about thinking in new ways – ways that build your relationship, because when you do, your kids will WANT to cooperate with your requests. When you communicate respectfully, your children will do the same! It’s not about scripts, exact words, or all-or-nothing choices, nor should your goal be “making kids obey.” It’s not that you say these EXACT words or even ALL the words – but that you go in with the attitude and intention of the Connecting Words rather than the attitude and intention of the Disconnecting Words.