Building connection is an important key to allow your child to "build trust, discover their voice, learn to self regulate, and understand their preciousness," (Empower to Connect Parent Training, Session 7).
As parents, we need to focus on how we correct our children. To help us with this Karyn Purvis has developed the levels of engagement:
1.) Playful Engagement (for mild behaviors)- redirecting with a playful voice.
2.) Structured Engagement (for moderate behaviors)- this would include choice giving. For example, a child says, "I do not want to read a book." You respond by saying, "okay, darling would you rather read a book or color a picture?" The child would have to choose from these two choices only. If you noticed both choices have a similar theme--quiet play. You still are able to meet your goal of quiet play, for example, while giving your child a choice. Of course, this is not always an option and sometimes children do have to complete the task at hand, but when there is wiggle room this option is nice to have.
3.) Calming Engagement (for verbally aggressive behaviors)- this would include a time in. You may be wondering, what in the world is a time in? I know I wondered myself at first and to be honest the whole idea made me a little crazy, until I tried it and understood it more. A time in would be an alternative to a time out. For example instead of sending your child to the corner or their room. You would allow them to sit near you. For example, you may have them sit on the couch while you tidy up the living room or read a book next to them. You tell your child, "Okay, honey when you are ready to talk about what just happened you just let me know. I will be right here." The child is then able to calm down enough to talk about the problem rationally. I have tried both time out and time in with my children. Time out tends to cause a huge melt down and rarely ends with a desire in my child to talk about the problem. With time in, my children do not feel isolated and know that I am there for them. They also feel a little bit of control over the situation (not too much) due to the opportunity to let you know as the parent when they are ready to talk about it.
Here is a video about time in from Karyn Purvis:
4.) Protective Engagement (for physically aggressive behaviors)
We have used each type of engagement with our children. I can tell you from experience that each one works well and the levels allow me to avoid over-responding to a problem. I know that it is okay to give a choice when needed and it is okay to calmly redirect. If I did not do these things and responded with a harsher, more drawn out punishment, the problem would escalate with me. When circumstances warrant, I do use calming and protective engagement. This work also, but definitely take more patience and time to get to a point where I reach a level of connection with my child(ren), but in the end there is connection. I have found this much more rewarding than sending my child away or giving them an earlier bed time, for example. In the end we both feel connected and the problem has been solved, not ignored or avoided.
During engagement, it is crucial that we as parents stay focused and calm (honestly this is sometimes difficult for me). In order to give you a better understanding of what an effective connecting while correcting approach may look like, Karyn Purvis provides the IDEAL response.
1. ) Immediate- it is important to respond to a behavior while it is happening rather than pushing it off until later. An example of pushing it off until later would be, "Wait until your Dad gets home," or "We will be discussing this when we get home."
2.) Direct- this would include looking at your child in the eye during correction and perhaps even holding their hands or putting an arm on their shoulder. This would be the opposite of following your child down the hallway while verbalizing commands, which would warrant less attention from the child.
3.) Efficient- this is where the levels of engagement come in. Try not to over respond and use as few words as possible.
4.) Action-based- this involves giving your child a re-do after correction. For example if a child runs down the hallway. You may say, "woah, woah wait a minute. can you tell me how you are supposed to go down the hallway?" After the child tells you the correct way you would give them the opportunity to try it again. This provides motor memory for the correct behavior.
5.) Leveled at the behavior and not the child- this involves correcting the behavior without shaming your child. At the end, the child should still feel loved by you as their parent.
The video below talk about the IDEAL response.
Believe me, I know all of this is extremely difficult and I do make mistakes when correcting my children sometimes. Thankfully, my children have grace when I have to go back and ask for forgiveness for my response to conflict. Just remember, when a behavior occurs you have a choice in the way you are going to react. You can be against your child OR choose to solve the problem WITH your child. I have found that the latter is much easier in the long run. :)
If you want to learn more about connecting while correcting, please consider taking an Empowered to Connect class. You can find a class near you by going to empoweredtoconnect.org/training and clicking find a trainer near you.
You may also find The Connected Child By Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine very helpful throughout your journey.
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*I was not paid to advertise any book or program. I give all credit to Karyn Purvis' work.