CONNECT before you correct.
During our drop-ins we get many questions from parents in our informal discussions. Many revolve around how to talk to your children so they will listen and how to correct behaviour. Did you know that correcting or fixing behaviour is the second step? VALIDATION AND CONNECTION is the first step. Without this step, correcting behaviour will be challenging and extremely reactive, throwing you both into a battle.
Although we have Clinical Sessions that can expand your tool kit- here are a few tips you can begin to use immediately.
Try them- the response may be surprising!
Think About Yourself: Slow down. Balance, breath, pause. Try to lower your arousal. This gets easier with practice and it models “regulation” for your child.
Get Down to Their Level: Crouch down and make sure you are not standing over your child – standing over your child, especially when correcting behaviour puts your child in a fight response. You can even get on your knees, and then enter the validation step.
Validate: This is hard, but it gets easier with practice. You are acknowledging your child’s experience. This is different from accepting the behaviour. It sounds like this:
“Hhmmm, I can see you are feeling very worried about that test and the review you have to get through – it does seem like a lot.”
“I can see how you wanted that printing to look perfect, that’s a drag.”
“You really wanted a turn, so you pushed. Gosh he walked away and doesn’t want to play with you. That doesn’t feel good.”
“Gosh, you really wanted to answer all those questions right. I get why you are crying. That feels lousy!”
Touch: Offer a reassuring hand, hug, touch. This is an easy one!
Remember, no questions, teaching or problem-solving at this stage.
You can address the specific behaviour, once the child is receptive.
Our tendency is to swoop in and offer solutions – this is NOT the time!
These techniques help build the brain and attachment.
Your job is to balance, validate the emotions, name the feeling and use your listening skills.
Good Luck – I know it feels hard and you may feel worried. It’s new and you want to do well. (see how it works?) Dr. Laura Cesaroni