Being a Connected Parent

Published on 9th September, 2022 by Thivya Lakshmi

Being a Connected Parent

Being a Connected Parent - Based on the Bringing Up Great Kids Program

There are many resources and textbooks out there that guide parents on the dos and don'ts of raising children, but more often than not, these strategies become hard to follow over time or are unsuccessful. Hence, rather than focusing on tips, this article looks into how one can focus on being attuned and connected with their child to better understand their child’s needs and one’s own needs when dealing with behavioural issues.

*Every distressing behaviour reflects a need

*Instead of asking “what is wrong with my child” ask “what does my child need”

  1. Understanding your parenting

Many at times, our own experiences of being a child and being parented, shapes our ideas of parenting as well as our subconscious reactions to certain behaviours. For instance, if as a child you were beaten for lying, you may choose to either engage in the same methods with your own child or you may choose to change it.

However, the idea of punishment may still be a subconscious idea imprinted in you to help correct a wrong. Hence, it is important for you, as a parent, to acknowledge the constructs and ideas you were raised with and how this impacted how safe and attuned you felt with your own parents.

Think about how what you may have needed as a child may have been different from what your child may need. Think about the times as a child where you were upset or angry and you felt like your needs were not being met by your parents.

  1. Understanding your child’s development and needs

Many times, children continue to do things even after they have been told not to do so and it may seem like they may be trying to push their parent’s buttons. Knowing more about your child’s developmental age gives a parent better insights into “why do they do that?”. Different parts of the brain develop at different ages and in a set order. For instance, toddlers are more likely to display temper tantrums because the brain part responsible for thinking is still developing. Thus, they have limited ability to think and be reasoned with.

There could be a number of reasons for misbehaviour:

  • need for someone’s attention
  • lack of problem solving skills to deal with the situation
  • a cry for help to deal with the emotions
  • misunderstandings in communication
  • unreasonable rules or expectations
  • forgetting the rules or limits

There could be many more possible reasons, but essentially understanding what caused the misbehaviour would help to diffuse the situation and make the child feel heard and validated. Think about the “why” behind the behaviours, and then help them achieve that need in some other way.

  1. Being “tuned in” to achieve connectedness

Just like you are understanding what pushes your button as a parent, think about and wonder what pushes your child’s buttons as well. All of this can be done by observing your child and noticing what they are drawn to and what they choose to avoid. ‘Tuned in’ parents make their child feel that their experiences and feelings are recognised, understood and will be responded to.

  • Active listening

Spend some time listening to your child’s point of view. The intention is not to only hear but to understand. As a parent, work out the feelings and non-vebral behaviours behind those words.

  • Be aware of your reactions

Children learn a lot from their parents, how you react when you are happy and how you react when you are sad. In the eyes of your child, you are their role model and how you act with your feelings teaches them what they should do with theirs.

  • Enjoy the moments

As a parent, there may be a lot of demands on you to manage the household as well as be a good parent. It is important to take a step back and allow yourself to focus on the moments you have with your child. Take some time each day to explore, wonder, play and laugh with your child. Be it in play or in everyday routine chores, let your child know that you enjoy the time you spend with them.

Thivya Lakshmi

About the Author - Thivya Lakshmi

Thivya is a Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psych Connect. Her passions lie in the areas of treatment of trauma, attachment and parenting. As a psychologist, Thivya believes in approaching any intervention or assessment, in a holistic manner and advocating for the need to triangulate clinical information to better understand a client’s situation and needs.

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