Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 8 of the Virtual Book Tour for the E-Book Parenting Responsively for Connection. (To order, visit http://heartwiseparent.com/responsive-parenting-e-book/), written by ACPI Parenting Coaches for parents to deal with the most difficult task of maintaining connection with the growing child whose behavior changes and shifts.
Yesterday, the book tour focused on Influencing Character Through Connection at the site: http://parentcoachsedef.blogspot.com with Sedef Örsel Özcelik. Visit now if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet all the authors.
Today, enjoy this book excerpt below on one of my favorite topics: Intention.
© 2011 by Sherri Boles-Rogers
Most of us would agree that at one point or another, we all yearn to be better connected to our children. Perhaps this is because deep down we understand that a strong parent-child bond will help us weather the many storms we will encounter on our parenting journey. Just as our children’s mind and body need to be nurtured, so does our connection. But do we truly understand how to nurture it?
Nurturing connection starts with being intentional. After all, if you haven’t set a destination goal, you aren’t likely to get there. Setting your intention to connect is a valuable tool. Intention helps to keep your heart and mind focused on where you’re heading and what’s really important: building a solid relationship with your child.
You’re already late for work and your daughter won’t put on her shoes.
Your sons are poking each other with forks instead of poking at their food.
You’ve discovered that your teenager snuck out of the house last night.
These are moments when you may have a hard time remembering the importance of being intentional about connecting. During these moments, it’s normal for your focus to become narrow in hopes of modifying your child’s behavior. But when you’re intentional about connecting, your response may be different as you step back, breathe deep and remember your long-term goal of establishing a deeper connection and building a stronger relationship with your child. During times of trouble, our intention often shifts to just wanting our child to do what we ask him to do. That’s understandable. We all want cooperation, peace, harmony and safety in our families. But when we “correct” before we “connect,” we often end up making matters worse.
When you find yourself in a tough parenting moment, these tips can help establish connection:
· Ask yourself where you want to put your time and effort in this moment.
When you do, you’ll prompt yourself to think beyond your short-term goal and remember your long-term goal of strengthening your parent-child connection.
So once you have prioritized your intention to connect, what’s next? Practice, practice, practice. Fortunately, you will have many opportunities for this.
When it comes to building a strong connection, there are no shortcuts. Connection is the foundation of your relationship. It requires awareness, intention, practice and commitment—and all of this rests with you. Connection doesn’t require your child to behave a certain way and it doesn’t require you to be a perfect parent. It does, however, require you to be aware of how you habitually react to your child’s behavior and to have an understanding of how to effectively respond.
When you’re experiencing turbulence in your relationship or you’re feeling disconnected, notice what’s going on inside of you:
· Are you trying to understand what is going on for your child?
· Are you offering compassion?
· Is your motive to correct, coerce or punish?
Understanding and compassion lead to connection. Correction, coercion and punishment can lead to disconnection and discord. Through coercive tactics you may be able to temporarily modify behavior, but in the long run, coercion erodes the parent-child bond and teaches your child to behave a certain way out of fear, guilt or shame. Understanding and compassion, on the other hand, nurtures the parent-child bond and your child’s natural willingness to cooperate and contribute.
So how do you nurture connection with your child during tense moments? The most important thing you can do is to pause and focus on your intention before you speak or react.
When you pause, take the opportunity to remember how it feels when you are in close relationship with those you love. For example, consider the kind of connection you feel when a friend really listens to you, not just gives you a nod of the head, but listens deeply, asking questions to be sure she understands what you’re saying. It’s that warm feeling you get when your partner genuinely wants your input in a decision that will affect you both. It’s the tenderness you feel when you’ve made a regrettable mistake and instead of saying “I told you so,” your friend empathizes with how embarrassed you feel.
When real connection occurs, deep needs are being met. Whether it is the need to be heard, the need to be considered or the need for empathy and understanding, connection meets needs. And acting and speaking with the intention of meeting needs is how you nurture connection and nourish relationship.
When you focus on your intention to connect, you are seeing the big picture of your relationship.
Connection doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t even always present from the moment of birth. Connection builds over time as trust is established and openness is embraced. Once the foundation of your relationship has been laid and you’ve established a quality connection with your child, the ups and downs of daily living become more manageable and less stressful. When this happens, your child better receives the teaching and modeling the behavior you desire.
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