Connection Made

by Heligirl on June 25, 2010

in Daily Ramblings,Positive Discipline

If you’ve been reading Heligirl for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge believer in positive discipline and doing all I can to work with my kids rather than punish them when they misbehave. More often than not I feel like I’m stumbling in the dark and crashing into some rather fragile things. But every once in a while I actually find the switch to the lamp, and the lovely soft light that floods the room makes all the bumps and bruises worth it.

Last night was one of those moments.

Sweetness was doing her usual fussing and power struggle maneuvers that have become so much the norm lately. We’d written a lot of it off as a toddler exploring her independence, but that was getting to be an old mantra. I needed to try something different.

I thought back to an important theme in Pam Leo’s book Connection Parenting. Pam reminds us that the greatest emotional need of every child is to bond securely with at least one other human being. And the key to building and maintaining that bond is connection. She also reminds us that when a child is misbehaving, the misbehavior is only a symptom of something deeper. My job as a parent is to determine what that deeper thing is and provide what the child is missing. The behavior will then change. It’s a lot of work, but so much better than the alternative – using punishment to make a child behave out of fear.

Last night I heard hubby struggling with Sweetness on the verge of tantrum. He’d asked her to get undressed several times and she was still half dressed, crying and demanding to do it herself even though she wasn’t doing it. I walked in and asked if I could take over. Hubby left. This got Sweetness’s attention. I sat down on the floor with her and just started talking to her. “How was your day?” “Did you have fun at daycare?” etc. At first each question was met with “NO,” but then she started talking. We talked about the airplane ride we’ll take on Saturday, what she wanted to wear after her bath, what book she wanted to read, and so on. Before I knew it, she was starting to take off her clothes. She asked me if I’d give her her bath. “Of course,” I smiled.

We had a nice bath then got dressed and in bed with little difficulty. I read her a book and climbed into bed with her for a snuggle and a song.

As I walked out of her room, I felt really, really good about myself for slowing down and connecting with with my baby girl. It was about 40 minutes later than her bed time, but the extra time I took was well spent. She went to bed feeling connected and loved rather than exhausted and disconnected after an evening of power struggles. At least for the night I could feel like I got it right. We can’t always make the time we need to connect the way a child demands at the moment, and in those shorter times it will be a struggle. My hope is that by taking the time like this when I can it will all balance out. At least her therapy will cost less than mine did.


Amy June 26, 2010 at 5:49 am

What a great parent win! I enjoyed reading about your toddler triumph… here from LBS, hanging around to read more!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 27, 2010 at 7:37 am

Thanks Amy! Great to meet you and thanks for visiting!
Heligirl recently posted: Connection Made

Brad June 26, 2010 at 8:37 am

That was such a great example of the need for connection. And believe me, that need is just as important when our children become teenagers. Thanks for the reminder.

Twitter: Heligirl
June 27, 2010 at 7:40 am

Thank you Brad. That means a lot coming from you! I sure hope to have a good strong family tradition of special time with the kids were they each get weekly special time with each of us by the time they’re teens.
Heligirl recently posted: Connection Made

Stacie June 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Good for you!! What an inspiring example. This is so hard for me to do…to put my own schedule on hold for a minute (or 40) and connect one on one with my children, instead of trying to prove to them that I am in charge. Thank you for taking the time to write this!

Twitter: Heligirl
June 27, 2010 at 7:42 am

He, he, I was up way too late with an impending 5 am alarm to catch a flight, but I had to write about this so I could share (and have it to go back and review when I’m feeling stuck). It really is so hard to put the schedule on hold. I feel so bad for the times I pushed on through in the morning because I couldn’t be late for work. I’m an expert at guilting myself so when I don’t have to be somewhere, I’ll make the time for them because I’m so very sorry for upsetting them earlier by not taking the time.
Heligirl recently posted: Connection Made

Kristen Truong June 26, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Go mom! Nice. I see you also participate in “tag team parenting” — that is, you came in for the second round when daddy was used up, but didn’t go against any of daddy’s prior work (she still had to take her bath and get undressed).
Kristen Truong recently posted: Friday fill-ins- Kill Bill- BP- Findley Lake- and The 5th Dimension

Twitter: Heligirl
June 27, 2010 at 7:44 am

Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes, you’re right. We should feel pretty good about that, eh? Thanks for pointing that out. 🙂 That’s a great thing for us all to keep in mind.
Heligirl recently posted: Connection Made

JP June 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

Great job, sweetheart…and at 62, I have learned that connection works with adults too!

P.S. Congrats on being a nominee, too…:) Proud of you!

Heligirl June 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

Ooooo, good advice. 🙂 Thanks!


Kate Walton June 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Well done, Jen. I like to think of this as “slow parenting”…sort of like the “slow cooking” trend and with many of the same benefits. Hard to do but so worthwhile.

Susan June 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Well done! And so true.

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