As parents, it is our natural instinct to parent the way that we were parented. For many of us, our parents did an excellent job raising us to be healthy, happy adults, but parenting children who have come from trauma means parenting children with unique needs. In order to do this well, we need a unique set of parenting tools to help us to connect with, guide, and love our children to the best of our ability in order to create the healing home that they need.
When I first became acquainted with connected parenting, many of the strategies seemed too “kind,” allowing the child to act with disrespect or disobedience with no expectations. (Now I remind myself that I can never be too kind as a mother!) Connected parenting does not mean powerless parenting, contrary to what you may initially think. Dr. Karyn Purvis reassures us of this with this quote: “If you as a parent share power with your children, you have proven that it’s your power to share.”
There are three parenting strategies explained in The Connected Child that are simple ways that we can share power with our children while still expecting them to listen and obey. These three strategies are compromises, choices, and re-dos. I will do my best to give a simple explanation of these powerful parenting strategies but know that you can always find more helpful information in Dr. Karyn Purvis’ book The Connected Child and her second book (along with Lisa Qualls) The Connected Parent, as well as in the videos linked below.
If you are experiencing fights about bedtime, turning off screens, or eating vegetables, this parenting strategy is for you! Compromises give your child a voice and empower them to express their wants and needs. They help children develop an awareness of their needs and to ask for help.
Here is an example of how a compromise could go:
Mom: We are going to eat in 5 minutes, so I need you to turn off the video game, please.
Son: But Mom! I haven’t finished the level yet!
Mom: Oh, it sounds like you want to ask for a compromise.
Son: Can I please have 5 more minutes to finish this level?
Mom: That’s great asking! Yes, you can have five more minutes to try and finish the level. Let me set a timer for you. What happens when the timer goes off?
Son: When the timer goes off, I will turn off the game in five minutes.
Some key elements to a compromise:
Compromises help eliminate power struggles by giving children a voice and teach them how to ask for their desires and needs.
For some more practical help with compromises, watch this video from One Big Happy Home. (And don’t forget to subscribe to their short, informative videos!)
Choices allow our children the opportunity to have some control over small things.
Some key elements of choices:
Some examples of choices:
Here’s a helpful video from One Big Happy Home about giving choices:
Offering re-dos to our children is a way that we can help them rewire their brain for correct behaviors and extend grace to our kids. According to Dr. Purvis, whether a child does the right or wrong thing, they are creating a body-memory. Our goal is to help our children create new body-memories so that they can do the right thing. Giving our children a re-do is a way that we can help their bodies remember how to do the right thing. Not only is it helping our children to feel empowered to make the right choices, but it also is a way that we can stay connected with our children through discipline. It allows them the opportunity to be successful right away, whereas an arbitrary consequence for their offense can often lead them in the way of shame.
Some key elements of a re-do:
Some examples of re-dos:
Here are two helpful videos from Empowered to Connect about parenting strategies and the IDEAL response:
We know, as parents, that none of us are perfect people. It is often helpful in parenting to think about the ways in which God lovingly, kindly leads us toward repentance. As image-bearers and followers of Christ, we should model His gentle, loving spirit in correcting and guiding our children. These three parenting strategies are powerful ways that we can empower our children to do the right thing and to remain connected with them as we discipline them.
If you are struggling in your parenting and discipline, consider trying one of these parenting methods and focus on connecting with your child. Love, lead, and guide your child in the same way your loving Father loves, leads, and guides us.
You only have a couple of days left to take advantage of the free training we are offering this month! In January, our theme has been Back to Basics, and we have some amazing videos from past Tapestry training and conferences about healing connection, attachment, and reframing parenting.
Click here to register!