Kids are struggling these days. There is more confusion about life, more depression and anxiety, and more behavioral disorders than ever. The pace of life keeps us scrambling and not as thoughtful as we would want to be.
We tend to parent from a confused place of anxiety rather than a place of intentional confidence.
Sometimes we become authoritarian and nag, push and take hard lines. We impulsively remove favorite privileges and possessions hoping to teach kids “their lesson.”
And sometimes we are too permissive. We fear our toughness will push kids away so we tip-toe around anything that might hurt or disappoint them. We bring forgotten homework or lunch money and do things they can do for themselves just to avoid conflict.
As we seek to discipline our children, there is a wide range of typical methods. At the extremes, some discipline harshly while others barely discipline at all. It’s finding that sweet “just right” spot that’s the real trick.
We all want to parent our kids well, and especially to feel confident as we discipline our children. But many parents, in their efforts to discipline their children, miss what we think is a key ingredient.
The secret? Connection.
From our years parenting our three intense kids and working with hundreds of parents, we know that one of the keys to effective discipline is connecting right in the middle of it all — making sure our kids know that they are safe, loved, and valued no matter what, even when they misbehave!
Check out these three videos where we dig into some of the ways that connection can make all the difference with our kids — even in the middle of discipline situations!
If you ask most parents, they would say it’s important to love children unconditionally. But in practice, sometimes that’s harder than it sounds!
What exactly is unconditional love? What does it look like?
One thing’s for sure — unconditional love is not praise for positive behavior. When I express love in any context where children can possibly interpret my affection as conditional (based on their behavior), it loses its power as an expression of love!
If you haven’t already, check out our recent piece about the importance and power of empathy when kids misbehave. Then, add to your list of practical ways to connect with this short video that gives more examples of how to make sure kids know, “You are loved no matter what!” even when they misbehave.
Pretty much every parent agrees that it’s important to connect well with our children.
But whether you struggle with a particular age or have personality clashes with your child, sometimes connecting is easier said than done!
So just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve collected a few practical examples of ideas to connect with your children and communicate in all sorts of ways, “Child, you are LOVED no matter what!” (P.S. You can use them when it’s not Valentine’s Day, too!)
Charles was almost sure his pre-teen daughter Sara knew she was loved even when she misbehaved. But he wanted his “almost” to be an “absolutely,” so he asked her: “Honey, do you know that you are loved, even when you misbehave?”
Sara answered quickly. “No.” She didn’t justify her answer.
Charles was shocked. After all, he is a loving and thoughtful dad who has worked hard to communicate his love. Yet Sara not only didn’t know it, she was quick in her answer. She decisively declared that she often didn’t feel loved when misbehaving.
The fact that Sara — parented by thoughtful, loving parents — did not always feel loved when she misbehaved is an indication that there are probably lots of kids like her. Unfortunately, even though parents almost unanimously say that they love their kids unconditionally, many of their kids doubt that they are loved unconditionally.
It is often said that consistency is an important key to effective parenting. We agree wholeheartedly.
However, we believe consistency is not so much about the method we choose, but the heart behind the method. If our heart is consistently operating from an abundance of God’s grace and truth in our lives, we can effectively use any variety of methods for dealing with our children’s misbehavior. But if our heart is filled with frustration, fear, or anger, no method for dealing with misbehavior is likely to be effective.
I’ve read a ton of Connected Families content over the past couple years and, now that I’m on staff, I’m reading even more. By now, you could say that the Connected Families Framework has become ingrained in my psyche.
I want to be a safe person for my kids.
I want to connect well with my kids.
I know that discipline is about helping my kids grow in wisdom rather than obey the first time, every time.
And I know that behavior change isn’t why I try to implement these principles. But even though I know all this, I still want so desperately to fix my kids’ behavior.