Connection Helps Calm the Chaos

March 20th, 2015 by Dionna | Comments Off on Connection Helps Calm the Chaos
Posted in Consensual Living, Gentle/Positive Discipline, natural parenting

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Fred Rogers quote

A child who is in the midst of a tantrum, or one who is feeling a very strong emotion, or even a child who has just “misbehaved” – each is feeling a sort of internal chaos. Because of their stage of brain development, kids have few skills in self-regulation, they cannot control how they are feeling, nor would it be particularly healthy for them to just “shut it down,” as a tured or embarrassed parent may sometimes wish they would.

The authors of No Drama Discipline explain that connecting to and comforting a child who has misbehaved (or who is feeling any big emotion) allows the child to move out of a reactive state and into a receptive state. A reactive child cannot hear or absorb discipline (or reason, for that matter). Once the child is more receptive, she can actually learn from discipline.

When you take the time to connect to an emotional child, you have “achieved the two goals of discipline – gaining cooperation and brain building – extremely effectively.” Connecting minimizes the drama that can happen when you try to correct or redirect a child in chaos. Connecting also models for the child “that there are calmer, more loving ways to interact when you’re upset with someone.”1

Fred Rogers said something that rings particularly true for me. He said that love “is an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

Loving our children when they are “behaving,” when they are quiet or laughing and creating good memories, that’s easy. Loving kids who are being challenging – who are saying “no!” and arguing and making life a little more miserable, that’s the struggle. That’s when we need to put on our grown-up pants and trudge through, consciously making the decision to love our children just as they are, at that very moment. Because it is those challenging times – the struggles, the storms, the tantrums, the fights – when our children most need to feel our love, to know we are present without judgment, to connect with us the most.

More resources to help you parent through your child’s emotional storms:

A few resources have really helped me calm down, connect, and respond positively to my children. I highly recommend:

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Photo Credit: Image modified/adapted (added words) with permission from James Watkins via Flickr Creative Commons

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