From Bluewater Family Support Services, support for foster families:
Bluewater is back with a friendly tip we think will make your role as a parent easier and less distressing: connect with you child before attempting to correct your child.
Children need to know parents are there to support them. Children don’t believe they are being supported when parents appear not to be listening. In response to the, “I will tell you where you went wrong” lecture, yelling, or punishment, children are far more likely to raise “I’m not listening” barriers, tune you out, and/or argue back. In order to be heard, connect BEFORE you correct.
Simply asking why your child did something wrong as you are yelling and punishing doesn’t produce the same results. Your child misses information about the impact of their behavior and the other choices that could have been made instead.
Correction requires your child solve the problem with your support. Your child gains firsthand experience with problem-solving and this experience may enable your child to make better choices the next time.
Connecting gives your child a chance to explain how he saw the situation unfold, which allows you to spot any holes in his understanding. This is how a real parent-child connection is created.
1. Start With “How” questions
Begin with asking “how” questions; avoid “why” questions. Ask things like:
“How upset are you?”
“How did her words make you feel?”
“On a scale of 1-10, how mad are you?”
“How do you think you should have handled this?”
“How are you feeling now?”
2. Engage in active listening
Active listening is requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker in an effort to minimize assumptions or misinterpretations.” Engaging in active listening assures your child has been heard.
3. Correcting Using the Word “What”
Now it’s time to shift from connecting to correcting. To do that, begin sentences with the word “what.”
“What are the rules in our house when you hit a friend?”
“What are you supposed to do instead?”
“What will you be doing now to fix his hurt feelings?”
“What else happens in our house when we hurt someone’s feelings or body?”
The words “how” and “what” help move both parent and child away from anger. The child feels supported and heard. The parent and child remain connected. Parent and child feel connected.
Try it! Connection BEFORE correction.

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