The word is getting out – across the land. It’s no longer just the Parent Educators at The Parenting Place anymore. Experts across the country are recognizing and promoting the significance of emotionally connecting with our children in the same conversation as how best to discipline.
That’s what was fervently delivered by Amy McCready, a nationally recognized certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator who spoke in La Crosse at the Lunda Center, Western Technical College on Thursday, sponsored by the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.
Ms. McCready is an excellent, animated speaker who shared several tried and true parenting tools but (drum roll here) she insists that the first and foremost discipline tool she promotes is making an emotional connection with your child. She says if you are only going to use one suggestion she shares that day, this is the most significant one to choose. Before you can change any behavior, you must first connect and invest your time on a very personal level. Connection before correction.
When she asked the audience why this tool is so much more important than other discipline methods, one mother, sitting alone, answered quietly, “Because everything else has failed.”
Ms. McCready has named this connection time she speaks of, Mind, Body and Soul time. It’s time spent with each child individually – ten minutes a day – when you are emotionally available and doing what he/she wants to do.
She’s absolute about having no distractions – cell phones, texting, nagging, correcting, criticism, bossing, no personal agenda. It is a time to get into a child’s world – openly – playing with dinosaurs gnashing each other in a prehistoric fight, or listening to your teen’s music with a clear mind, shooting hoops, painting nails, playing checkers. Whatever it is, your child absolutely knows it is 1-1 time with him/her.
Ms. McCready believes (as do I) that you will notice the difference in your relationship in a few days. Because when you are connecting in this non-judgmental, personal 1-1 way, something happens, something palpable that you can feel.
Compare this positive step to the overuse of timeouts and taking possessions away from a child. So often the goal of misbehavior (and there is always a goal) is a cry for attention – to be noticed – to feel significant. Being sent away or having personal belongings taken is totally missing the point.
When we are connected, when our emotional tanks are full, all of us can feel more ready to listen and to feel more cooperative.
But I have three children – how can I possibly spend this time with just one child at a time?
Tell the children ahead of time that you want to do something with each of them, alone, McCready says. Encourage them to start thinking of some things they’d like to do. When the children realize that they too will also have “their time”, they won’t want to nix this.
“But I spend all day with my children already” .
So true, but this is 1-1 time when we are emotionally available, doing what he/she wants to do and how he/she want to do it, without distractions.
Ms. McCready says it’s important to label this time to let the child know that this ten minutes is especially for him/ her so this specific time you are sharing will register in his/her emotional bank account.
So – why not try it? The best thing about this is it’s fun, it feels good, and guess what else? You’ll notice and appreciate your child every day, perhaps in a particularly unique way, that in our hectic schedules might easily have been overlooked.
Now that’s a connection you don’t want to miss.
If you have questions/concerns about connecting with your child, call Fran at The Parenting Place to set up a Parent Coaching session.
You’ll get 1-1 time of your own – without distractions – I promise!