Be an ally: how to connect to our children

Be an ally: how to connect to our children

I wanted to highlight the power of being an ally to our children. I don’t mean a “friend”–because that can get really confusing really quick–but a true ally. A person in their life that they can come to rely on, depend on, and work TOGETHER with.

There are many times throughout parenthood when we may feel at odds with our offspring. They want to be awake. We desperately want to sleep. They don’t want their diaper changed. We NEED to get rid of that rancid smell. They want to stay at the park. We need to pee immediately.

The go-to for these moments is often, “What will work quickest? What will be easiest?” I’m here to tell you, the answer to either of those questions isn’t the answer. The question should really be, “What will work best?” Managing our children’s behavior from a place of connecting (rather than winning) is a good start.

The questions I personally run through in my head are: How can I get through to Tess? How can I show compassion and understanding for what she is feeling and help us BOTH work toward the end goal? Once I think these through, it becomes clear what I need to do that will serve us best for the rest of our lives.

Here are the first three steps you can take toward being an ally to your child:

1. Think about your pace. Don’t just swoop in and disrupt what they are doing. Give forewarning. Make up a “2 minute warning song.” Get creative. Allies don’t boss around. They don’t slam your laptop shut when you’re mid-email. They don’t snatch your phone away when you’re in the middle of an engrossing Instagram scroll. And they don’t just show up at your apartment.

2. Acknowledge how they are feeling. Example: “I know you don’t want to leave now, but we have to. It’s hard, I don’t want to leave either. I was having so much fun with you! But now it’s time for dinner and we can come back to the park tomorrow.”

3. Choice. A REAL choice. Example: “I can either pick you up to change your diaper, or you can walk to your room.”