Have you ever found yourself scolding and giving your child an ear full of your best discipline and consequences, only for him to tune you out or storm off with a raging attitude? Most likely, you begin to escalate with frustration because your child displays disrespectful behavior towards you. Disciplining your child does not have to be a battle, and you do not have to struggle to achieve more cooperation in your home.
If you connect to your child before you correct his behavior, your child is much more likely to be willing to listen to you and far less likely to tune you out or to act out. There is a saying "you have to reach the heart before you can reach the head" and this most certainly holds true because connection matters. Many studies have concluded that children who feel greater connection to parent or adult caregiver (such as a teacher) have less emotional distress and risky behaviors. Dr. Jane Nelsen, pioneer in Positive Discipline, based the approach, "Connect Before You Correct", on Adlerian/Dreikursian psychology. It "embraces the theory that children will move toward cooperation when they sense that the adult cares about them and treats them with respect and dignity".
When families connect as they correct behavior, they create new habits that are natural in daily interactions with others. It is vital to establish family rules and expectations of what happens when rules are not followed. Ask questions and use natural consequences for broken rules as this requires a child to think and learn from his choices. Explore the "what" and "how" (such as, "What can you do in the future when this happens?" and "How can you express your feelings in a different way?") in the correction process to promote connection and communication and to reduce power struggles.
Lastly, allow time to connect with your child aside from the correction or discipline process. Spend time daily, at least 15 minutes, to have uninterrupted child time with your little one as you continue building attachment. You can find this time to read together, play toys or a game according to his rules, or take a nature walk together. You will find ease at discipline and correction when the child feels trust, love, and genuine care.
To learn more about Connect Before You Correct and other positive discipline strategies, attend one of BFE's Workshops!