We have always been presented with two models of education. As if there were only two options: to be stiff and repressive, or soft and lax. My approach is surprising because finally, here is a proposal that allows both to establish a solid parental authority, while forging deep bonds with our children. Finally, an approach that respects both parent and child. And we tell parents: we hear you, we know you, you need help, and we’re here for you. And I think the parents are relieved. Finally !
The punitive approach confuses the child and his behavior, the child and his feelings, the child and his motivations. What is new is that we propose to both set solid limits, while validating the feelings of the child. And it’s reassuring for parents: they can establish their authority, and respect their child for who he is. Namely: a good kid who sometimes has a bad time. And not just a bad kid.
No way. These punishments and rewards miss the point: children need tools for life and security to acquire those tools. Children need to feel secure in the relationship with their parent, but that does not mean that they can have everything they want, on the contrary. They need consistent and firm parents (“no, I won’t let you hit your little brother”). But they also need parents who see the good in them (“but it’s hard, huh, having a little brother?”).
Children need attachment. They seek the moments of connection. That doesn’t mean they can have them all the time, but putting your cell phone aside, every once in a while you tell them, “You have my full attention, I’m here, you’re worth it.” and this contributes to their sense of security. And that is so important!
The more we try to make our children happy when they are young, the more we lead them straight down the path of anxiety as adults. For what ? Anxiety is the inability to cope with distress. But this is learned. But by continually striving to keep them happy, we deprive children of valuable tools. Our children can’t learn to tolerate different emotions if we don’t tolerate them in them ourselves. So instead of always trying to keep them happy, it’s better to show them that their moments of distress don’t scare us. That is the secret of resilience.
The perfect parent doesn’t exist (but the good parent apologizes when they make a mistake). Raising children is the hardest and most important thing in the world, so if you’re looking for help, it’s a sign that you take your job seriously (not that you’re doing something wrong). Finally, connection is the most important tool. When your children are over 14, this will be your only tool. If you want your kids to cooperate, talk to you, have a relationship with you, you have to bond and connect. This does not mean to tolerate everything. But that means seeing the good in his background, realizing that your child may be having a bad time, but that he is not a bad child for all that.
Becky Kennedy is a clinical psychologist and mother of three. She lives in new york.
Dubbed “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer” by Time magazine, with over 1.5 million Instagram followers, she is considered the voice of reason for the next generation of parents.
His book Good Inside has just been published in French, by Éditions de l’homme: Attentive parents – A guide to empathizing with children… and with oneself.