As an older parent I’ve had the luxury of maturity, security and nanny TV to help me navigate through the murky waters of first-time parenthood. In the beginning, time-outs and counting were money in the bank and mama thought she had it made.
It didn’t take long for that to crumble.
Historically, there’s a reason these techniques came to be. They were a replacement for old-school spanking, which we all agree is emotionally and physically hurtful. Truth is, we can’t coerce another do anything they don’t want to do.
The only way to get a child (or anyone) to listen and want to behave is to see things from his or her perspective with warmth, empathy and compassion. In other words, we must connect before we correct.
If we’re not connecting with our kids, we’re not doing our daily relational maintenance. This is true for all relationships. We must tend to them regularly if we want them to thrive.
Instead of being ‘money in the bank,’ meaningful connection is more like a savings account where deposits are made daily by giving loving attention to the little things.
Nowadays when my kiddo acts up, I look for the purpose behind the behavior which makes me more open to seeing it as a bid for connection. This is still a challenging task that involves a lot of chocolate, but it’s one that pays dividends in the end.