Connecting Before Correcting
“You cannot teach the mind before you have the heart. Connect before you direct.” – Dr. Gordon Neufeld.
Setting limits with our children is very important. It actually reduces anxiety in the long-run: limits and boundaries are like walls and guideposts which tell us where we are, how far we can go, and when to turn back. However, our children learn best when they feel connected to us.
When we connect with them before correcting behaviour or providing direction, it helps them feel safe and more able to process what we need them to do.
We can connect with our kiddos throughout the day in different ways. Filling up our child’s connection “cup” in small (or big) ways during the day will make it easier when we have to set a limit, or correct their behaviour, because they already feel connected to us.
Even 15 minutes of quality time each day can go a long way to fill our child’s cup. For busy families, 15 minutes can often feel like a lot! If this is the case, go ahead and spread it out into smaller chunks of time.
Connection suggestions: child-led play, mealtimes, physical affection, reading together, going for walks, listening, telling them “I love you!”
In the moment when we have to set a limit, provide direction or correct behaviour, we can also connect with our child in a number of different ways.
We can try getting down to their level – this allow us to see their face and they can see ours. Making eye contact, or offering a gentle touch can be helpful, but keep your child’s unique temperament in mind. Some kiddos may find touch or eye contact overwhelming in the moment. You will know your child best. Active listening and just “being with” them in their feelings for a few moments to create that space of connection will help bring them feel safer and more ready to listen, be guided or learn a new way of behaving.
Need help brainstorming more strategies for connecting with your kiddo? Get in touch with us via our helpline (778.782.3548), e-support (firstname.lastname@example.org), or book a parent coaching session here