Connected parenting has turned my life and the way I interact with my children around. I can’t help sharing the resources that helped me so much! Here’s a few compelling reasons why you’ll want to learn more about connected parenting tools and consider making your own U-turn:
A quality bond between parents and children is a key factor for future success.
It won’t surprise you when I say that the quality of a parent/child relationship is a significant predictor of a child’s future choices. In other words, an authentic relationship is the best way to protect children from mental illness, substance abuse, and other risky behavior. Today, in the deep trenches of our mundane parenting lives, whether we realize it or not, bonding is happening and it’s the quality of this bonding that matters most.
No matter the circumstances of our childhoods, we all had times of significant disappointment. Times when our parents just didn’t get it. Or worse. And even though we were taught to “get over it,” the scientific truth is that unless we release it, that hurt and pain remains stored in our bodies (also known as the limbic system). Our attempts to avoid those painful feelings is highjacked when we become parents. Have you ever noticed how sometimes your kids push you just the right way and you react disproportionately to the moment? Perhaps you over-react by becoming controlling. Or maybe you under-react by withdrawing. Either way, your feelings take the wheel and you end up in the ditch.
When I became a mother, I discovered mounds of ignored grief thwarting my instincts and barricading bonding. No one would have known, because I was doing everything right on the outside, but inside, I was shut down and distant. Joy and affection were only shallow experiences. I knew I wanted more than to be an anxious mother going through the motions. I’m here to tell you that because of connected parenting, I’ve stopped burying my feelings and have unearthed my ability to fall in love with my kids. We are finally building a strong bond that feels unbreakable and I’m looking forward to the future with them. (Read more about bonding and bonding road blocks: here, here, and here.)
Challenging behaviors are the result of fear and disconnect.
Almost like an over-stuffed suitcase that snaps open and spills everything inside, our brain changes functions when threatening emotions are surfacing. When my daughters started biting each other at 15-months-old, I struggled with how to respond. Getting them to stop proved impossible and I ended up facing difficult truths about my parenting style. Attempting to bend their wills with logic and control, I was coercive and over-reactive. I teetered from punishing and withdrawing to loud and angry. Connected parenting helped me understand that my children’s biting was not just about simple disobedience, but also about the physiology of fear and disconnection. Similarly, my own reactions were not about a lack of love for my children, but about my own unkempt suitcase of fears. I learned to deal with my own emotional baggage and more importantly, how to start connecting and listening to my kids. Now I know connected tools and interventions that work to keep our emotional suitcases lighter and the positive behaviors follow along naturally. (Read more about changing behavior and facing fears: here, here, and here.)
Tantrums allow your child’s natural intelligence to blossom.
Have you ever noticed that no one had to teach your child how to have a tantrum? Contrary to popular belief, tantrums do not happen simply because all children are inherently manipulative (no one knows where they get that from *ahem*). No, tantrums are a natural brain reset system. A big emotional “poop,” if you will. All mammals are designed to vigorously release perceived threat and fear through crying, shaking, trembling, yawning, and even laughter. If we don’t allow that process to happen we encounter all kinds of side effects, including impaired memory and problem solving skills, as well as a disconnect and challenging behaviors. When we help our kids with their feelings and tantrums, we are helping their brains function better.
Kids are not the only ones who need to be supported when they’re having a hard time. Parents also need to offload the day’s weighted anxieties and frustrations. I now practice something called listening partnerships, where I have a community of other growing parents willing to listen to me whenever I need them. I’ve seen my problem solving abilities go from non-existent to fully functioning after having a chance to talk things out to a neutral party. Connected parenting is making me smarter, too! (Read more about tantrums and how to handle them: here, here, here, and here.)
Although connected parenting sounded impossible to me at first, today I’m grateful and proud of the parent I’m becoming.
Would you like to know more? Do you have questions or thoughts? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!