Another trusted colleague and mentor of mine throughout my many years as a parent, special education teacher and Montessori Guide, is Kim Hughes. She is a certified Conscious Discipline ® Loving Guidance Associate, personally trained by Dr. Becky Bailey. Here is what she has to say about building positive parent-child relationships
by Kim Hughes
Building Positive Parent-Child Relationships with a New Approach to Discipline and Intentional Parenting
Connecting with our children should be our highest priority. As parents, we can build a connected family in many ways, from spending quality time together to seeing the world from our children’s perspective; from noticing their interactions with others to listening to their thoughts and ideas; from setting firm yet respectful limits to loving them unconditionally. Each of these elements solidifies the child’s trust in the family relationship.
Parents across the country have been enjoying the fruits of a new approach to discipline: positive discipline methods built on the principles of Conscious Discipline®. Built on the latest in brain research and work in early childhood development, Conscious Discipline works in even the most challenging of situations. One major difference from other discipline methods? Conscious Discipline prompts parents to develop discipline within children rather than applying discipline to them.
Tips on How to Build Positive Parent-Child Relationships with Conscious Discipline®
1. Make time to truly focus on your children.
Don’t plan to be there for your children only during the good moments, but during ALL the moments, even when the going gets tough! Be an eyewitness to your children’s lives. Be fully present by giving both your interest and full attention to your children rather than multi-tasking. Make the decision to be accessible even when your life feels hectic.
Children know when you are genuinely with them. Connect with your child by taking a walk, reading a book, creating a special ritual, or sharing a funny story. Time spent with your children should be a sacred priority of parenthood. Your presence is the greatest present you can give!
2. Change your “don’ts” to “do’s”.
Conscious Discipline reminds us that what we focus on, we get more of… so if you focus on what you don’t want your children to do, you tend to get more of the same. Children have a very hard time taking a “don’t request” and turning it around to a “do action.” How many times have you heard someone say “don’t hit,” yet the hitting continues? Children look to the adults in their lives to teach them the correct responses to challenging situations. Be specific about the behavior you would like to see. For instance, say, “Talk to him if you are upset. Hitting hurts.” Capitalize upon these occasions to utilize conflict as an opportunity to teach children missing skills rather than reprimand them for not knowing what to do.
3. Teach the behavior you want to see.
Children need a lot of time and practice to learn new skills. The best time to teach your child how to handle conflict or social interactions is when he’s calm and can hear what you’re saying. Work on his skills before the next conflict or social situation occurs. How? Explain what your child can do when he’s conflicted, frustrated, or angry, rather than what not to do. Be calm, patient, firm, and crystal clear in your expectations. Model the appropriate behavior yourself.
4. Learn the QTIP rule: Quit Taking It Personally.
Strong feelings can conjure up strong behavior. Your child’s intense reaction is truly not about you, it is about your child’s inability to control herself. Often she becomes tangled up in her emotions and has temporarily lost her ability to understand and express her emotions in a positive manner. Feeling hurt and taking this behavior personally can keep you from responding in a thoughtful fashion and supporting her transition to a state of composure and self-control.
5. Keep your cool.
Be the type of person you want your children to become by modeling composure. Take a deep breath and tell yourself, “I can handle this! Keep breathing,” over and over until you compose yourself. Let your hurt and anger go, consciously quiet your voice, and think through how to calmly and constructively respond rather than simply react. Reframe your thinking and instead of simply trying to make your child stop a particular behavior, ask yourself, “What can I do to help him choose to take this action instead?”
6. Offer choices.
Choices empower children while giving them a sense of control. Additionally it grants you the ability to direct those choices. You might offer choices such as …
- “It’s snack time! Would you like string cheese or a small container of yogurt?”
- “Let’s put on your jacket. Do you want to have the zipper open or the zipper closed?”
7. Encourage, encourage and then encourage some more.
Seek to be an active participant in your child’s everyday successes and struggles. Your encouragement during good times and bad will allow your children to see themselves as good people capable of good things. Knowing you are fully supportive empowers them to focus on what they can do, not what they cannot. Use verbiage like “You did it! You picked up your toys.” rather than just “Good job!” so they hear detailed information about specific successes.