Every time we speak – our children listen. Our voice becomes that ‘inner voice’ that they hear when they are trying to make decisions or interact with others.
Try to avoid labels at all costs. Never label a child as ‘good’ or 'bad’ – but when faced with unsavoury behaviour try and stay neutral (esp. when they are having a tantrum!) and try to work out what the feelings are behind the actions or behaviour you are encountering.
One way to be a progressive parent is to realise your child’s behaviour is not happening ‘to you’. See them as their own individual being with their own thoughts, feelings and experiences and work with them on a journey of navigation. How we respond to them – their tantrums, their cries, their outbursts or anything we ‘don’t like’ will make all the difference to how they process the situation and how this will shape their behaviour in the future.
So, what do we do? When we respond, we need to try to connect with our child in a way that reduces stress – for both the child and you! We need to create a safe place for the child to process emotion and unpack their behaviour. Their feelings are never ‘bad’, although sometimes their behaviour is not what you’d like. We need to make sure we separate the behaviour from the root cause/emotion behind the behaviour and don’t try to control it or blame the child. Children by nature want to be good so look beneath the surface and see the ‘bad’ behaviour as a cry for help. Your job is to figure out what they need help with! Sometimes it’s just wanting to feel connected to you, the parent.
Children will mirror what we do a lot more than what we say. So, we can start by showing them how we want them to behave by modelling and behaving that way ourselves. If your children are fighting with each other, a lovely expression to use is: ‘we are not a fighting family’. So, you are not singling out any one child or behaviour – but you are emphasising team work and the family unit. This type of unity can be used for many things e.g.: ‘we are a family that listens to each other’; ‘we are not a shouting family’ etc.
Check out this blog in 2 weeks’ time for some PRACTICAL TIPS on what we say and the damage it could do and how to change our words!