By: Jalynn Johnson, CSW
Welcome back! This is Part 2 of 3 on Dr. Dan Siegel’s book, No Drama Discipline. If you missed Part 1, go and check it out! We covered how we can change our discipline philosophy to parent from an intentional place, rather than from a place of reactivity. We also learned about how our child’s brain is growing and developing, and how that needs to be taken into consideration as we parent and redirect our children. These next chapters will address how to help our child move from having a tantrum to a more calm and teachable state. To carry that further, the next chapter gives information on steps parents can take to really put this No-drama parenting into action.
CHAPTER THREE: FROM TANTRUMS TO TRANQUILITY
Connection is the tool that is addressed in this chapter. It is the tool that can help our children regulate. It can help a child move from reactivity to receptivity. Throughout a meltdown or outburst, it is important that we stay emotionally connected to our child. We stay connected by staying near them, or in the same room, we provide empathic words such as: “That would make me upset too!” and we offer physical touch, such as sitting close, holding a hand, rocking, etc. This connection will deepen your relationship with your child. They may know that you will be there for them through the good (at their performances, snuggling reading a book) but now you will show them that you will also stick around for the bad. Work hard to make connection your first response.
CHAPTER FOUR: NO-DRAMA CONNECTION IN ACTION
Connection Principle #1: Turn Down the Shark Music
When we parent out of fear and on past experiences that don’t apply to the current situation we miss out on what is actually happening and do not cater to the child’s needs in the current moment. We still need to pay attention to patterns of behavior over time. We cannot get trapped in a state of denial and give excuses for our kid’s behaviors. Sometimes we do need to expect more of them and have them take more responsibility. This is always done wisely when parenting intentionally and in the moment.
Connection Principle #2: Chase the Why
Be a curious parent, chase the why. I wonder why my child did that? What is she wanting here? Is she asking something? What is she communicating? Remember, do not ASK the why, CHASE the why. Ask these questions to yourself. A lot of times children don’t understand why they did something, they don’t have the proper language to express it. That is why you as a parent, who is higher functioning, need to be curious, open, and empathic to the child and figure out what could be behind the behaviors.
Connection Principle #3: Think About the How
What we say is just as important as HOW we say it. What is your tone of voice? Is it shaming? An example: “Get in bed now or you won’t get any stories” vs. “If you get in bed now, we’ll have time to read. But if you don’t get in bed right away, we’ll run out of time and have to skip reading.” What a difference!
No-Drama Connection Cycle
Strategy #1: Communicate comfort
Words are helpful to help calm a child, but what is even more important are the non-verbals of nurturing, mainly touch.
Strategy #2: Validate, validate, validate
We need to let our kids know that we hear them, that we’re with them in the middle of all those big feelings and we’ll always be there, even if they’re at their worst. When we tell our kids how to feel or how to not feel we invalidate their experience. We can first identify the emotion for them and then connect with it.
Strategy #3: Stop Talking and Listen
A child isn’t capable of responding to logic when in a heightened emotional state. Sometimes talking a lot can make it worse, it floods the child and leads to more dysregulation. Instead, sit with your child and listen to them. Give them time to express themselves.
Strategy #4: Reflect What You Hear
Step back and reflect to your child what they’ve said, communicating to them that they’ve been heard. Let them know you understand their experience, you can help soothe their big emotions, calm their inner chaos, and lead them to use their upstairs brain.