Make a Connection Before Correction

by Heligirl on August 29, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

From time to time I get stumped on how to parent in response to some negative behavior I’m seeing in the kids. I’ve found Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline Cards to be a great parenting tool. I’ve bought the iPhone app and have found it mighty useful in a pinch. The app is 52 cards of tips and advice to put positive discipline to use every day.

One card I really love, both for how it works and how it makes me feel using it, is the Connection Before Correction card.

This card, a valuable positive discipline tool, encourages you to create closeness and trust instead of distance and hostility by making sure the message of love gets through.

Let’s say your son is begging over and over and over again for you to buy him that hot new toy all his friends have. By telling him “I love you and the answer is no,” you’re offering the connection, but sticking to your guns.

When working with an older child who is having trouble getting along with a sibling, because she wants to have the doll her sister is playing with, now, saying something like “I love you and have faith that we can find a respectful solution for everyone,” again offers that connection, but has the added benefit of encouraging her to work on her own solutions to the problem.

The basic premise is before you jump into correcting the behavior, take a beat to connect with your child. It might feel a little odd at first, trying calmly to say, “I love you, honey. Remember to play gently with little brother or you can’t play together. Hitting hurts.” But in the end, your little one will hear she’s loved and that added connection just may be what she needed to feel less inclined to knock baby brother into next Tuesday.

What do you think about this idea? Have you tried it? What was the response?


Wendy68 August 30, 2011 at 2:17 am

Hi – I can completely recommend this approach. I adopted it over 10 years ago when my step kids were young – maybe 6-9 years old? It was an extension of something from John Gray’s [yes, of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus fame] book “and children are from God”. While I read his work with large handfuls of salt, and as an agnostic filter out some lines, and finally speed through the repetition, at the heart of his writing are some very useful concepts.

From his Children book, two main concepts stuck out to me.

People can be broken down into four main behavioural groups. Each of us may be a combination of styles but usually one is predominate. The challenge can be when you have a child of a different style to yourself, making it harder to intutively know how to respond to many situations as effectively as you might with another child. I was so struck by how one group matched my own mother’s description of her childhood, which was characterised by many conflicts with her mother. Over the phone, I read to her about the style that seemed to match her description of her childlike self. Silence ensured, and then through uncharacteristic tears she explained – she had so often been miserable, thinking something was wrong with her because she felt so differently to how her mother told her she should “be”… and here I was, when she was aged 70, reading aloud her innermost definition of self.. from a book!

The other concept is that at the heart of things, girls want to be loved and boys want to know they are trusted and respected. I changed my language when dealing with my lovely step kids as HeliGirl suggests and yes, you feel like a bit of a twit the first time… until you suddenly realise it is incredibly effective and then you can’t stop! Always good to mix it up a little – I think boys need to hear they are loved and girls that they are trusted/respected too.. but it was clear that the words mapped to the same central core emotion in the kids, regardless of the label – what I would call emotional security.

Our son is turning 3 in December and I already use both these key words with him often, and will tailor them as he gets older. And now I have a new iphone app to explore!

Thanks for your article

Twitter: Heligirl
September 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Thank you so very much for a wonderfully valuable comment, Wendy. I love it. I’d not heard of the girls wanting to be loved and boys wanting trust and respect, but that makes sense. I agree that I think they both want all those things.

What a heartwarming story about how you shared what you learned with you mother. What a wonderful story and reminder to us all. Thank you again so much Wendy!

Mama Spaghetti August 31, 2011 at 8:24 am

I really like this tactic. And I especially like that the phrases you offered didn’t include a “but,” which I think would send totally the wrong message. “I love you and the answer is no,” is so much different than, “I love you, but the answer is no.”
Mama Spaghetti recently posted: Dear Recession, Go home!

Twitter: Heligirl
September 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm

That word switch makes all the difference. Letting kids know they’re loved even thought they don’t get what they want, rather than a condition of not getting what they want, makes for a happy, emotionally healthy young person.

alison September 5, 2011 at 5:52 am

This is a great post!!! So much thing to learn… I would appreciate if you post more like this… Thanks for sharing this awesome post!
alison recently posted: Quickest Way To Get Pregnant

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