Helping Your Child Feel Heard - Aka Behavior is Communication
Today I want to share something to help you be the even better parent you are wanting to be. How do I know you want that? Because you’re here!
Here’s a new way to think about your child’s challenging, button pushing behaviors that will help you respond more effectively in the moment rather than reacting in ways you don’t want to.
Imagine you have been looking through the same pair of parenting glasses for a long time. They color the way you see, interpret and react to your child’s behavior. I invite you to take those glasses off for a few minutes and put on this other pair I'm handing you today. When you look at challenging behavior through these new glasses, what you see is that Behavior is Communication.
Take a minute to focus your eyes.
So, what is your child communicating? I want you to imagine an iceberg. The little part above the water is the behavior. It’s the part you see. Most of the iceberg is below the surface, churning with some combination of stress, anxiety, or overwhelm. Big feelings can be really scary for kids. All those feelings are pushing up and driving behavior, the language your child has to express those big feelings. They need to feel heard before they can use words for healthy emotional expression.
When behavior pushes your buttons, how do you respond?
Our impulse is often to try to control behavior. Learning to listen for what your child needs means connecting with your child emotionally below the surface to help them feel heard and safe. It’s in the relationship that you have the power to build resilience for the emotional and social well-being you want for your child’s life.
Next time your buttons are pushed, change your glasses first.
Ask yourself, “Is this a transition?” (after school, getting ready for bed, getting up in the morning, ending play time, etc.) All transitions are stressful to some degree and even more so if your kid is stress sensitive.
As you look through the new glasses, take a minute to pause and take a couple deep breaths focusing on the exhale.
Ask this question, “How can I connect to my child right now and help them feel safe. How can I bring them regulation. This is what I call Parent-Centric.
Give it a try and always remember this - you get it right more often than you realize!