3 Steps to Peaceful Behavior

Parenting is complicated. Redirecting our child’s behavior can sometimes seem impossible. We don’t understand why they say certain things or act certain ways.  We are frustrated. We feel helpless and confused. We want things to be different, but we are not quite sure how to get there.

The good news is that it’s not as complicated as it seems. There is a lot we can do to redirect behavior that is simple and based in love and compassion while still maintaining healthy behavioral boundaries. A good starting point is three easy steps: empathize, strategize, and harmonize. The goal is to implement all 3, but even just putting one into place will bring about big results.

EMPATHIZE: I always handle things better when I understand the “why.” Understanding the why brings me compassion. Acting with compassion results in empathy. I need to understand that there may be meltdowns at the end of the day because my son is tired from school. I need realize that my daughter moves at a a snail’s pace in the morning because getting herself organized internally for the day is a lot. So I empathize. I give them grace, and I extend it to myself as well. I understand where they are coming from and meet them where they are before I even begin to redirect the behavior. If you choose one of these steps, choose this one. Empathy is critical.

STRATEGIZE: If we know certain times of the day are difficult, or if we know our children have certain “buttons” that get pushed and result in Code Red situations, then we need to anticipate that and create a strategy for successful navigation. Designing our strategy in the moment is too late. It opens the door for emotional responses rather than targeted and effective ones. It’s a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, and it is much more effective.

HARMONIZE: Understanding where our children are coming from, the “why” behind their behavior, and creating a planned response then allows us to align our response with their needs in a redirection that is harmonious to both. For example, if we identify that getting ready for baseball practice is difficult because our child is tired and therefore resistant and ornery, then we respond with a plan. For example, have a snack first, set a timer, offer an incentive, get dressed in a different place, etc. We come at the behavior with a harmonious response that gives our child validation and acknowledgment while also helping us achieve the original objective.

Kids are so tricky and so is behavior. However an approach that is firm, kind, and based in love and empathy yields far greater results than anything else. Dig deep. Press on!

Find the joy,

Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.