Every Child Has a Story

February 17th, 2015 by Dionna | Comments Off on Every Child Has a Story
Posted in Consensual Living, Gentle/Positive Discipline, natural parenting

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every child has a story

My counselor and I were talking about empathy recently. She said that when she’s feeling unsympathetic, when she wants to blame or be angry at what she’s perceived as thoughtlessness or selfishness, she remembers that everyone has a story.

The person who cut you off in traffic? Perhaps he is on his way to the hospital to visit a dying parent.

The salesclerk who never made eye contact or said a word to you? Maybe her home is in foreclosure and she’s worried about where her family will land.

And so on.

The same is true of our kids. I wrote recently about three questions parents can ask themselves before reacting to a child’s misbehavior. The first question, the one that challenges parents to investigate why a child is misbehaving, that question acknowledges the fact that every child has a story.

Your four-year-old son just shoved his baby sister down after she took his toy. When you take time to connect with him and find out why he pushed, you discover that his best friend refused to play with him at daycare today.

Your grade school daughter came home from school, ignored your greeting, and slammed the door in your face. When you’ve breathed and asked to talk with her later, she tells you through sobs that she flunked a math test.

Your toddler had a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store. After you’ve brought him to the safety of the car to help him calm down, you realize you’ve missed his afternoon snack. The sight of food had sent him into a tailspin, but he did not have the words to tell you.

Every child has a story. When you practice asking yourself those three questions before reacting, when you take time to consciously and thoughtfully connect, you are better able to see things from your child’s perspective. Connecting and teaching, rather than imposing knee-jerk consequences, will do more to help build your relationship with your child in the long run.

How do you focus on your child’s needs?

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You can read more about the three questions in the book No Drama Discipline, and in this article: What’s the Point of Discipline? Three Questions to Ask Before Reacting to Misbehavior.

I’m reading through No Drama Discipline right now with the volunteers at Natural Parents Network, and I’m writing about it here. Check back on both sites over the coming weeks for articles sharing thoughts and tips that we’ve picked up from the book and from our discussion. Grab a copy of the book yourself (Amazon links are affiliate links). It is one of the most down to earth and helpful books I’ve read on discipline in a long time.

Photo adapted with permission from Tim Geers via Flickr Creative Commons.

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