“No matter how bad your child’s behaviour is, it’s a cry for help. Sometimes the behaviour requires a firm limit, but it never requires us to be mean.” – Gordon Neufeld
I love this quote from Gordon Neufeld because it so beautifully reminds us of the big ideas we need to embrace as peaceful parents.
All behaviour is a message to us. If our child is acting out, it’s because there is something out of alignment. As humans, we want to be ‘good.’ We survive by being close and connected with our caregivers. If our child is being difficult or defiant, there is something wrong. It’s our job to figure out what our child’s need is and try to help. (Want more on this? I’ve got some links for you at the bottom of this email.)
Children don’t need to be made to feel bad to learn. Parents often think their child needs to be made to feel bad so that the lesson will be memorable. I’ve heard some parents ask, “Shouldn’t we do something so that our child knows they shouldn’t behave that way?” By this, they usually mean, “Don’t they need a consequence?” The idea that people need to be made to feel bad to learn is so deeply ingrained in our culture. The reality is that consequences get in the way of learning.
Think about the last time you made a mistake. Maybe you missed a deadline at work. Would you learn the lesson better if your boss yelled at you in front of your co-workers, docked your pay and made you stay late? I would want my boss to assume that I was doing the best I could and give me the support I needed to do better next time.
If our child is acting out, being difficult, or being defiant, we can see their behaviour as a message and try to figure out what is driving it. Even if we need to set a firm limit, we can always be kind and compassionate.
Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 13, 16, and 20). Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”
Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com