Some parents really dread the school holidays. It’s completely understandable to anticipate feeling frustrated overwhelmed and unsure of how to address your child’s challenging behaviour. Lecturing, nagging, scolding, blaming and shaming all hinder connections with our children. The one positive parenting strategy that Psychologist, Susan Woodworth, wants to share with more parents is Connection before Correction. This means that before correcting or disciplining our children, we need to focus on our relationships with them.

What is Connection?

Connection refers to the quality of the relationship between the parent and the child. This includes trust, understanding, empathy, and communication. We are better able to influence our children positively when we create a connection with them. However, it is a mistake to think that giving children whatever they want is an effective parenting strategy. Rescuing, fixing, and overprotecting are not good ways to create a connection. Strong relationships are created when both child and adult feel a sense of belonging, warmth and understanding.

What is Correction?

As parents we want our children to listen to us, respect our authority and follow rules. However, it is easier for children to feel willing to listen to us when they feel a strong connection with us first. Once the connection is made, children are more open to correction. It is important to understand that correction is different from punishment. Punishment is often done to children and includes punitive time-out, grounding and taking away privileges not related to the misbehaviour. Correction is done with children and involves problem-solving and finding solutions. 

We often make the mistake of first correcting a child’s behaviour by punishing them and then trying to understand what happened to cause them to behave this way. When we prioritise connection before correction we are showing our children that we care about them, that we want to understand what’s happening and that we are on the same team. 

4 way to develop a deeper connection with your children

Keep your own emotions regulated. It is important to remain calm and respond in a consistent manner. Reacting impulsively or losing your temper can escalate the situation. 

Listen. Stop doing whatever you are doing and give your child your full attention

Focus on solutions with your children. It is empowering and it is a bridge to connection. Be curious and help your children explore the consequences of their behaviour and choices.

Spend special time with children. What could create a greater connection to your child than knowing you enjoy spending time with them? There are times when all of us need nothing more than a hug.

Remember that parent is a journey and it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. By approaching these situations with a willingness to learn and grow you can help your child develop positive habits and behaviours over time and create strong relationships within your own family.

Listen to Susan Woodworth’s full chat with Bec and BT below!