Can Responding vs Reacting Change Your Relationship With Your Children?

May 27, 2016
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It’s 6 o’clock and you’re in the kitchen trying to get dinner on the table. You’re child tries to pour a glass of milk and he spills it everywhere. The last thing you need or want is to clean up another mess, so how are you going to handle this. Will you respond to your child or react to them and the situation?

As a parent, difficult moments happen all the time. That’s just a part of the parenting gig. But how we react to our children in these difficult moments can change the relationship we have with our children.

If you react to your children you meet to their emotions and out of control behavior with your own emotions and out of control behavior. You are simply reacting to the situation and trying to end the behavior. But, if you opt to respond to your child then you are meeting their emotions, tears, and whines with calmness, patience, and understanding.

I know, the concept sounds very fairytale. But what if your child felt safe to express himself or felt that his emotions/feelings/opinions were valued? By responding to your child you are giving them the opportunity to feel this way. And when you slow down and respond to their behaviors you are going to get the chance to connect with your child, teach your child, empathize with your child, and show your child problem-solving skills.

Instead of screaming “Why can’t you ever remember to feed the dog,” ask your child if there is anything you can do to help him remember to feed the dog. By doing this you are making your child responsible for their own behavior and giving them the opportunity to learn how to problem solve for themselves.

It is true that at times there is simply no other way to handle a situation than to react. Sometimes urgency and emotion are needed. Balance is a healthy thing, but learning to respond to your child is well worth the try.

It is going to take some work and conscious effort to accomplish this because I think that we all get stuck in the rut of busy days and just want the tantrum over so we can move onto the next thing in our busy lives. But if you take the time to address what’s really the heart of the issue your relationship with your child will only benefit.

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