The research is very clear that how we interact with our kids impacts how their brains develop, their future relationships (with friends and partners), and how they cope with life’s ups and downs. No pressure!
It can be hard to see the long game when we’re stuck in a sleepless world of nappies, “No!”s and not enough hands. However, working with our kids and helping them navigate their strong feelings through empathy and connection has numerous positive outcomes including: [i]
- Greater cooperation
- Better relationships
- More successful learning
- Positive mental and emotional health
- Positive social behaviours (Less likely to engage in delinquency and drug use).
Tip 1 - Meet needs with WIN-WINS.
Our kids rely on us to meet their needs. We’re it! Food, sleep, connection, play, exploration and autonomy are all vital needs. When their behaviour isn’t working for us, look for other ways to help them meet their needs.
“Hmmm…You want to play and I want to enjoy my coffee. How about we sit outside where I can watch you?”
Tip 2 - Give Information.
Our little ones are new to this place. Let them know what’s happening and what would be helpful. Tell them why they can’t do something and offer an alternative. This alone can prevent many a meltdown.
“We’re going to the café. There might be lots of people so I’d like you to stay near me while I get our drinks then we’ll find a place where you can play. Today we’re getting smoothies.”
“I don’t want you to eat the cat food because it’s not good for human tummies.”
Tip 3 – Accept Big Feelings
Kids brains are still under construction. The connections to the thinking part of their brain frequently get blocked and they get stuck in survival (aka tantrum) mode. Over time ( brains aren’t fully wired until early/mid-twenties!) our patience and support during meltdowns help children develop pathways that enable them to calm themselves down in future.
TOP TIP: Stay close, calm & connected
“You’re really angry I said no. I’ll stay with you as long as you need, sweetheart.”
Tabitha Jonson is a Mum to 2 lovable, often exasperating children, Parenting Mentor at The Way of the Peaceful Parent, and Facilitator for Palmerston North Parent Centre’s Responsive Parenting Course. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Responsive Parenting go to www.peacefulparent.com and for local courses contact Palmerston North Parent’s Centre, www.palmyparentscentre.org.nz