When we de-escalate situations and don’t use imposed consequences on our children, it can feel like we are ‘letting them get away with it’ and this is a conversation I’ve been having a lot this week. I can understand why that is. If that’s all you did I can see why it might feel like that because you are not ‘dealing’ with it. That in itself can add pressure as there is an expectation that we should be dealing with it in a way that society expects us to.
The problem is that traditional ways of managing challenging behaviours don’t work for many children. They may feel like they work in the moment, but they don’t change behaviours over time. This week I want to talk about how we help children to understand themselves and their emotions, so that they learn to manage their emotions in appropriate ways.
In the moment when the child is escalating our sole aim is to stay regulated ourselves and help regulate our child. It’s not trying to rationalise with them, issuing punishments or anything else. Their brain won’t allow them to be rationale because they are in fight or flight, so it’s a pointless exercise.
Once everyone is calm, that’s when we talk about what was happening. The conversation we have afterwards is called the deferred conversation and is not about shaming or punishing the child.
It’s a very effective way of reconnecting with the child and over time, helping them to understand their emotions and how to manage them in appropriate ways. After all, it’s not the emotion that’s the problem but the way it comes out.
The conversation needs to come from a place of support. This encourages the child to open up and talk. If we start with; ‘Your behaviour was unacceptable earlier, you mustn’t hit or why did you do that?’, they are liable to shut down and refuse to engage.
When we start with ‘I’m sorry you were upset earlier, I could see how angry you were’, they are more likely to engage. Yes, it may only be superficial to start with but as we continue to have these conversations they start to open up and learn.
We want to teach them about their emotions and help them to understand. The conversation will be different with every child but the reason behind it is the same.
I know many parents who don’t want to have this conversation. Many are worried about what might happen and how their child might react. I understand that. These conversations are powerful though. Overtime can have a significant impact on behaviour as the child learns to understand and manage their own emotions.
Having these conversations isn’t always easy for the parent or the child. The child doesn’t want to talk about what happened, they already feel bad about it. We have to be careful not to put them into a position of feeling shame. The parent doesn’t want to the have the conversation for fear of the child’s reaction and potentially escalating everything again. I know it’s not easy! I also know from personal experience and that of the many families I’ve worked with, that this conversation is powerful and it does work. I’ve had parents say to me that this conversation is a game changer for them. This week I launched the second edition of my book Connective Parenting and it now includes this very important conversation. If you’d like to get a copy you can find it on Amazon here or the Book Depository here.
Give it and try and see how it goes. It can take several attempts before you feel comfortable with it. If you’d like more support and advice come and join me in my free facebook group. I share tips and ideas every day – https://www.facebook.com/groups/connectiveparentingusingNVR/