In my last series, Creating Safety in Relationships, I discussed many important steps to establishing healthy adult relationships among partners. The parental relationship sets the tone for the family atmosphere.
But what about parenting?
Most of my early parent training was based in behaviorism. This basically means that behaviors are associated with consequences. You reward good behaviors to increase them and punish bad behaviors to decrease them. Sounds a lot like what the animal training books said about training my dog.
The problem that I see with this perspective is that it does not consider the human element of raising children. All people young and old are relational by design.
Over the past 15 years, I have found that I really enjoy working with the hard-headed kids. You know the ones. They have, “I dare you to make me,” written across their heads in invisible ink. Many of the kids I have counseled have been under a behavioral modification system for years, but they have not always had someone that was willing to build a relationship with them, take them under their wing, and mentor them.
I have also noticed in parenting my own kids that when I yell and punish harshly, I get increased defiance and emotional disconnection.
Hold up. I thought the behaviorists said that punishment decreases unwanted behavior!
Instead, when I keep my temper in check, give them time to cool off, and then peacefully go talk to them with warmth and empathy, they are much more open to teaching, because they feel safe, loved, and cared for.
So lets get beyond behavioral charts and token economy systems. Let’s focus on what makes parenting fun and encourages confidence in our kids: the relationship.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about finding effective ways to encourage and build up our kids through secure, warm, and loving relationships.
I will discuss the 4 C’s that foster a healthy Kid Connection.
The truth is that raising kids is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things a parent will do. I encourage you to watch for the rest of the posts in the Kid Connection Series.
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