Do you remember the "choose your own adventure" books? You turn to page 8 if you choose to walk into the forest, or page 20 if you choose the path past the old castle...
Parenting can feel like a choose your own adventure sometimes! When we see challenging behavior in our child, for instance, we can choose different paths. One of those paths leads to more meltdowns and defiance... the other to connection and cooperation.
1. The "reactional" path focuses on ending the behavior. Rewards or consequences might be used. Your assumption is that the child's behavior is intentional.
2. The "relational" path looks at the whole child. You start by helping your child calm down. You see the behavior as a sign of stress in your child.
Re-training myself to use a relational approach rather than a reactional approach has been one of the biggest game changers in my parenting journey.
One of the grandparents (who's the full time guardian of her grandchild) put it this way, "working with Dana has helped me put things in perspective, and look at the behavior in a different way."
You can start today. When you see challenging behaviors or a meltdown, help your child calm down. See the stress in your child that is causing the behavior.
Like many things this path may sound simple, but it takes practice. As parents, we become are used to reacting in certain ways to our kid's behaviors. Think about how your parents or grandparents would have reacted to you if you "threw a fit", "talked back", had a tantrum, or refused to obey an order...
We might be wired from our childhoods, to react to disruptive or challenging behavior with quick action, consequences, threats, yelling or force (maybe a combination of those things). But we know so much more about the brain, behavior and relational parenting. We can rewire our brains as parents, and help train up a new generation that is wired to choose the relational path over the reactional path.
Take a look a some of the differences between the two pathways:
cognitive/ thinking start point
Focus on eliminating challenging behavior
Uses reasoning, rewards and consequences and talking
Assumes challenging behavior is intentional
Not specific to your child
Focus on managing your child
starts with attention to how the child feels inside their body
Focus on what’s beneath the behavior
Starts with helping the child calm down before talking/reasoning
Sees challenging behaviors as a sign of stress in the child
Unique to your child
Focus on understanding your child and giving them the tools to learn to manage themselves
Reach out to me if you want to become an expert in your home at choosing the relational path.
If you're a parent who's feeling exhausted and discouraged in your journey, AND you're actively seeking solutions that work, then sign up for a FREE S.O.S (Save Our Sanity) call with me. We will talk about what specific challenges you're facing, and the path to moving your family from survive to TRIVE.
Also, if you want to join a discussion of the book Brain-Body Parenting, join our free parenting Facebook Group, Parenting Sanity and Strategies. There is a link below.