When my son was about 4, I was truly at a cross-road. I wanted to parent with love and respect, but I found myself using punishment to try to change his behaviors. I realized in that process that I didn’t want to hurt my child to teach him how to behave. I didn’t want to deal with him harshly. In the long term I didn’t think that would help him.
I knew when I was punished when I was growing up that any behavior change came from a place of fear. If I changed my behavior, it was only in order to avoid more pain. I wanted my children to do the right thing because it was the right thing, not because they were afraid.
I didn’t want to smack my son’s hand when he hit me. I wanted to respond in a way that taught him and modeled for him the way I wanted him to handle his upsets and frustrations. But in that moment, I honestly wasn’t sure how to do that.
Today we talk about how real learning happens, and where to shift our focus away from punishment and back to the relationship.
I share my own experiences of finding my way through connecting with my own feelings and with my son’s feelings, but also that it wasn’t an instantaneous change. It took time. For me, it took a lot of time – years, in fact – before I figured out that regulation is critical to change, and that relationship and connection are critical for regulation.
Here’s my story of the day I knew things needed to be different.
Do you have a similar story? I’d love to hear it! Please feel free to share it below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!