The temptation is to stop our child in his tracks when he screams in the car, throws a stone at his sister, turns his plate full of food onto the floor.
Sometimes we might have to–if whatever is happening is truly dangerous.
Fortunately, it rarely is, though we might feel an urgent need to control a situation.
When we do–when we forcefully intervene–we’re putting control before connection.
Our relationship with our child–as any relationship–asks that our child feels safe with us, seen, respected, understood, no matter how odd the behavior might seem to us.
Here’s what I mean. Coming out of our house, I see my youngest son peeing all over our new patio. I’m incredulous, and tell him to get a bucket and scrub the stones.
Later I ask how come he peed there. And here’s what he tells me–he was competing with his brother to see who could pee the farthest into the bushes. He was backing away while peeing to see how far it would go, and as he ran out of pee, it splattered on the stones.
We had a good laugh about that, and once we had laughted, we agreed that the next peeing competition will be held on the lawn, well away from the patio.
To paraphrase Alfie Kohn–assume your child’s best motives consistent with the facts.
Connect with your child, before you direct his behavior.