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Our relationship with our child is our most powerful “tool” in helping our children through their distress. When we take a moment to connect first, before correcting or directing their behaviour, we immediately begin the process of helping our kids manage their emotions more effectively and therefore help to ease their distress.
What does Connection do?
So how can we best respond when our children are displaying big emotions?
Putting feelings into words changes the brain’s activity from the emotionally charged “reacting brain” to the smart, reasonable, calm “thinking brain”.
Active listening and asking some questions helps you to understand what your child was feeling, and why. Feeling understood on it’s own alleviates stress.
2. Practice “calm and comfort” techniques
3. Comment on the behaviours that are helping your child regain control
4. Maintain your limits with kindness and firmness
5. Be aware of your own reactions and feelings
6. Provide comfort and hope
Just be there. Keep in mind that children don’t always feel like talking about what’s bothering them. Let them know you’ll be there when they do feel like talking. Even if they don’t want to talk, your presence makes a difference. Just keeping each other company, taking a walk, playing a game, spending time together.
Connection helps to ease distress and often if a child didn’t speak about what was bothering them initially, they will eventually when they feel more calm.
It hurts when we see our children stressed out or sad. Resisting the urge to swoop in and “fix” it can be very, very hard. If we consistently practice the steps above, we are laying the foundation for our children to eventually be able to regulate their emotions when they are distress.
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