With Hand in Hand Instructor Catherine Fischer
Dear Hand in Hand Parenting,
I recently found out about your approach, and I really want to try some of these ideas. I have started Special Time, and it seems to be going well, but I'm confused about setting limits. You suggest a warm approach, with no need to yell. I'd love to work out a more collaborative approach using these peaceful discipline strategies with my son, but it seems impossible!
I'm a working mom, and we already struggle to get out of the door to school each morning. How can I suddenly stop shouting and nagging at him, or giving consequences, and still hope to get everything we need to get done actually done?
I guess my question is, have I left it too late to become a more peaceful parent?
4 Tips To Help Transition To Peaceful Discipline
Dear Good Mom,
Congratulations on your willingness to try a new approach, even with the time pressures you face and the work it takes to figure out how best use these Listening Tools in your family.
These are such good questions, and first, let me assure you that these tools can be added to your parenting toolkit whenever we learn about them and decide to add them. It’s not too late!
Start with Special Time…
It’s wonderful that you have begun with Special Time and that it seems to be going well–Special Time is always a great addition to a family routine and makes using the other tools more workable because of the connection you are deepening with your son.
In fact, over time, Special Time can reduce the kinds of struggles you mention about getting out the door in the morning. Is there any way that you could add in some Special Time to your mornings? Sometimes our kids lose their sense of connection to us in the morning because we are so busy with everything else we must do. Even five minutes of Special Time can ease that transition for children. If you are able to add some Special Time into your mornings, it might make limit setting go more smoothly.
Remember This 3-Step Approach to Setting Limits
One of the biggest adjustments many of us have to make to our understanding of limit setting, when we begin with the Hand in Hand Parenting approach, is to remember that there are three steps to limit setting: listen, limit, listen. Sometimes, our kids really do just need some help, some information or a simple reminder to get back on track and we don’t even need to set a limit.
When our kids are truly off-track, though, they are signaling to us that they can’t think and they need us to reconnect with them. At these times, when we can come to them, and warmly state the limit, for example, “It’s really time to put our coats on now, honey.” This connection and limit together may lead to the outpouring of the bad feelings that were keeping our child from being able to cooperate.
Listening to these feelings is an important aspect of limit setting, and is a new concept for many of us!
Overcome Stress and Shouting for More Peaceful Mornings
Another option to replace shouting, nagging and giving consequences as you adjust to peaceful discipline is by adding some playfulness to the morning routine.
If putting on shoes is always a struggle, try making a silly voice, and pretend your son’s shoes are saying “I hope those feet aren’t going in me again today! I hope _________ won’t even be able to find me!”
Or try acting silly, like you aren’t sure what to do next to get out the door, or you don’t know how to get ready yourself. Go to the door and declare yourself ready when you are nowhere near ready.
The best way to approach this is to see what makes your son laugh. Laughing not only gives him a chance to offload some of his tensions through laughter but also reconnect with you through play.
Take Time to Examine Your Triggers
If you find it’s difficult for you to switch gears from yelling and threatening, you may need to offload some of those old feelings before you can be more relaxed and playful. You’ve been getting the two of you out the door for a while now, and some feelings are bound to have built up around all of it – having to repeat yourself or the stress of running behind, for instance.
If there’s something about the morning routine that really sets you off, talk about it with a Listening Partner.
Taking it one step further and also talking about other times in your life when you had similar feelings can really help to remove the charge and allow you to try this transition to setting peaceful limits with your son even more successfully.
Good luck! You will find yourself having happier and more relaxed mornings with your son before long!
Catherine Fischer is Hand in Hand Parenting instructor in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
More resources to Help Transition to Peaceful, Connected Parenting
- How to Nag Your Child The Fun Way
- How To Set Limits In Five Words or Less
- A No-Fuss Way to Set Limits on Screen Time
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