Parents, when you don't know what to say, try this.

what do i say
Sometimes parents ask me “What do I say when my child does xyz?” They don’t want to yell but don’t know what to say instead and get stuck in old patterns.
To those people I say “How can you know what to say before you’ve listened?”
Every behaviour is an attempt at communication and connection, however misguided or seemingly irrational.
Turn your feet and body towards them. Soften your stomach. Uncross your arms. Crouch down to their eye level, maybe sit on the floor with them. Breathe.
Unclench your jaw. Breathe. Tell them you’re listening.
Listen to and validate their feelings. Bring them to their sensations if you can.
“Oh, that must feel hard, I can see why you’re upset. Where do you feel the upset in your body?”
You can do this even with pre-verbal children.
If you keep calm, they will eventually calm down too.
Once there is connection, you can work on correcting behaviour without the need for yelling or threats.
Connection comes before correction. Repeated connection breeds cooperation, reducing the need for correction.
When your child is “misbehaving”, you don’t need to know what to say, you just need to listen.
[ID: pink tile with floral edging that reads “When your child is “misbehaving”, you don’t need to know what to say, you just need to listen.”]


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