What it Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families Series- Day 7

Consciously Parenting: What it Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families
Book 1 of the Consciously Parenting series

Letting go of consequences Because we are programmed to look for the consequence from the time we are small children and to look only at the behavior, it takes mindfulness and lots of practice to start seeing these situations differently.

But when we start seeing the possibility of a different outcome, we can start finding solutions that result in connection and a stronger relationship with our children.

From the book Consciously Parenting: What it Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Families

But if I don’t give a consequence, my child will never _____ (do what I say, make the right decisions, etc)…

That’s what I thought, too. But I’ve now seen too many situations where a child knows what the right thing to do is, but there’s something else getting in the way of making the right choice in the moment.

When an adult is dysregulated, we often make poor choices. Even when we know how we should behave (not yelling at our kids, not hitting, etc.), when we’re stressed out and dysregulated we can’t always make the choices we want to be making.

When a child is dysregulated, they have less capacity to make good choices than we do as adults. Their brains are less mature than ours. They have less practice flexing those muscles of regulation and co-regulation than we do and so it often looks messy.

What we all need when we’re dysregulated is support to regulate. Consequences often dysregulate more in the moment and don’t prompt thinking in the way we want our children to consider how something impacts someone else.

Kicking When Upset

8 year old Mary came to see me with her mom because Mary was kicking and hitting when she was upset about something. Mom was insistent that she knew better, but nothing they’d done was helping to shift the behavior. Mary was getting bigger and there were concerns about what would happen if the behavior didn’t stop.

We talked about what was happening in Mary’s body when something upset her. We talked about where the energy went in her body when she was upset and she showed me how it went into her legs and she wanted to kick. We also talked about how she felt so bad when she had hurt someone when she calmed down.

We reframed what was happening as dysregulation and that Mary was going to need some help to change what was happening. Once we identified that the problem wasn’t that she didn’t know what was appropriate, we started working on the actual problem of her underlying dysregulation. We came up with a plan that would work for both mom and Mary with lots of physical movement during the day and negotiating touch and attention in the morning and after school.

Focusing on the consequence is focusing on the problem. Focusing on the relationship recognizes that the child is having a problem and needs support. Mary and her mother were able to come up with solutions that strengthened their relationship and helped everyone to feel better.


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Author

  • Rebecca Thompson Hitt

    Rebecca is passionate about creating safe spaces where learning about oneself in relationship to others can organically happen, both online and in-person. She offers professional trainings, as well as group experiences for individuals, couples, and families looking for personal growth using basic neuroscience, epigenetics, attachment theory, trauma, neurobiology, Polyvagal Theory, and Prenatal and Perinatal Somatic Psychology. Rebecca empowers individuals and families to co-create the connected relationships they desire. She is the author of 4 books and lives in Oaxaca, Mexico with her husband and two young adult sons.

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Rebecca Thompson Hitt

Rebecca is passionate about creating safe spaces where learning about oneself in relationship to others can organically happen, both online and in-person. She offers professional trainings, as well as group experiences for individuals, couples, and families looking for personal growth using basic neuroscience, epigenetics, attachment theory, trauma, neurobiology, Polyvagal Theory, and Prenatal and Perinatal Somatic Psychology. Rebecca empowers individuals and families to co-create the connected relationships they desire. She is the author of 4 books and lives in Oaxaca, Mexico with her husband and two young adult sons.

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