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Your Child Has a Tantrum: Don’t Focus First on Behaviour Change

When your child has a tantrum or you’re at your wits end because of their behaviour, it’s tempting to focus on their behaviour. But it’s important to do your best to stay calm and connect first (unless safety is an issue).

(It’s not always possible when you’re triggered, but that’s another post. The point here is to recognize the value of trying to put calm and connection first, when you can. And it’s okay to repair when you misstep.)

In that moment, when you’ve reached the end of your rope, it can feel totally counterintuitive (and wrong) to focus on connection, for so many reasons.

🌟You feel bad because you believe their behaviour is your fault as a parent, so you try to stop the behaviour (to stop your bad feelings) 

🌟 You want your kids behavior to be “good” so they can have friends, do well in school, be successful in life

🌟 If they have intense emotions, can’t cooperate or get along with other kids, you feel worried about them

🌟 When their behavior is inappropriate or they have intense emotions, you compare yourself to others, feel self conscious and judge yourself

🌟 If we were brought up by parents who used punishments or consequences, a little part of you may believe that if you don’t stop the bad behaviour at any cost, it’ll never, ever end. 😩

And yes, we do want to teach our kids to have appropriate behaviour, but it’s important to connect first as much as possible because it helps your connected relationship to stay strong, and helps your kids to stay open-hearted and able to attune to others feelings. It also helps your child’s cognitive rational brain to be active so that you can teach them how to behave differently next time.

When you focus on behaviour in the absence of connection, you break down your trust and bond.

Open hearted kids grow up to be:

❣️ empathetic

❣️ considerate of others

❣️ intrinsically motivated to behave appropriately and treat others well because they can *feel* the impact on others when they don’t.

They’re more likely to be true to themselves and authentic.

I’d love to hear your thoughts–what’s hardest for you about this? When does this not work?

**Image Credit: Unsplash, Jordan Whitt

This article was published first on Medium.