My relationship and connection with my child is the number 1 factor in his or her good behavior. Despite knowing this, I constantly have to remind myself. When my kids start acting out, grabbing them up for a snuggle is usually the last thing I want to do. I would much rather send them to their room, or at least make them feel as bad as they are making me feel. Is that the mature grown up thing to do? No, of course not, but it seems like my ability to function as a mature adult goes down when a toddler is screaming or a 9 year old whining. Oh, whining. The bane of my existence. But no matter what way they come up with of acting out (and believe me, they are creative), the root of the problem is usually their relationship with me. Do they feel loved, valued and connected? If not, it’s almost impossible for them to behave well. Now, wait a minute, you might say. Children should learn and practice good behavior regardless of the circumstance. Yes. And No. You must remember that I am my children’s main source of emotional connection. Since I control their time and playdates, they can’t even build relationships with others unless I make it happen. But here at home, my mood and attention affects everything in their life. As a mom who has 4 kids to share her time with, a husband who loves her and many friends and family members to call and chat with when I am feeling emotionally low, I have to remind myself that for my kids, IT’S JUST ME. If they are feeling low and I brush them off, ignore them or speak harshly, they may feel cut off from their main source of love. And they act out. And when they act out, I am more likely to speak harshly or punish and the cycle continues. Because like I said before, when my kid is sitting on his brother’s head while trying to stick marbles in his ear, I don’t exactly feel like scooping him up for a bear hug. Or suggesting a cuddle. But that may be exactly what he needs! Now, I am not suggesting that children should not have consequences for negative behaviors or that you should reward a child for acting out. But if it feels like a pandemic in the household or a child has been doing a lot of it lately, then it’s time to step back and look at the big picture. Have I been busy or pre-occupied lately? Have I made sure to spend time with that child to connect? Probably not. And there is not a one time fix, but rather a relationship adjustment that needs to happen. Just as I put time into maintaining my marriage relationship, I owe it to each of my children to make them feel loved EVERY SINGLE DAY. And once I start doing this, it’s amazing how quickly attitudes adjust and little hearts brighten. Not only do I meet their deep need to be loved, but I model for them how to love others. So hugs, cuddles, dates, walks, answering questions (even the ridiculous unanswerable ones), special treats and back scratches are not just a nice extra, but an essential part of our lives. Without these things that pour love into their little souls, children simply cannot function. Neither can we. Everyone needs to be loved. I just have to remind myself that for them, I am the source.
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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and the statements on this blog have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am just a mom who shares what works for me!