Of all the 52 tool cards–Connection Before Correction is my favorite! This seems to be the tool that I am the most consistent with. However, I’ve had to smile and feel guilty at the same time when my son comes to me before I go to him with his arms open wide, ready to give a big hug. He’s even been taught to remind me to take a few deep breaths when I’m upset. I wish I could have seen my face the first time (when he was just 3-years-old) he said “Mommy, calm down and take some deep breaths.” He was absolutely right. I was embarrassed and grateful at the same time. Embarrassed because my 3-year-old caught my behavior before I did, and grateful because he actually learned what I had taught him.
We’ve all had a heated argument with a spouse or sibling. I think I can speak for everyone when saying that it’s hard to correct (“fix”) the problem when one or the other is still upset. It’s usually after we’ve both calmed down that we’re able to say, “It’s all my fault”—No, “It’s my fault.” We then follow by saying “I’m sorry,” and the other quickly responds with “I’m sorry too.”
I can also speak freely in confessing that when I’m angry or upset, I will say and do things I don’t mean. Most of the time I’m ashamed for my behavior and wished that I‘d calmed down first, or just kept my big mouth shut. These same responses and reactions happen as parents too—except more often. How many times have we reacted to our children when they have pushed our last button? Before we know it, we can’t control what comes out of our mouths and we flip our lid and totally lose control. Watch the video below to better understand flipping your lid.
This week I have another story that relates to this tool card. And I hope my husband doesn’t think I’m “throwing him under the bus.” I share these stories because I feel that many couples will be able to relate. Most couples come from completely different backgrounds. They’re each raised with different parenting styles. This usually leads to one parent being more of the “Authoritarian Parent” and the other as the more “Permissive Parent.” Right? So, what usually happens is the permissive parent is even more permissive trying to make up for the authoritarian parent and vice versa. As you are learning, Positive Discipline doesn’t advocate either style rather that parents be BOTH Kind and Firm. That said…my son Greyson received another Yellow Card in school on Friday, that was followed by the Red Card on Thursday. My husband was so patient and respectful with him on Thursday. He took him into our office and he sat with him and talked to him by asking questions, focusing on solutions and brainstorming ideas together on a plan for school the next day. Everyone felt great.
Of course all cards were off the table when the next day there was a substitute teacher…sigh. When Greyson received his yellow card, and my husband received ANOTHER talk from the teacher—well let’s just say he wasn’t as cool as he was the day before. He felt like “everything he had said went in one ear and out the other.” I think he felt discouraged, and that being respectful and calm wasn’t working. He was getting to the point of “flipping his lid” when I had suggested that he calm down and let me talk to Greyson. His interpretation of that request was that I was “rescuing, coddling, and babying him.” My interpretation was that I was “Connecting Before Correcting.”
It was obvious that they were both upset, so I knew that this was not the time to resolve conflict or to problem solve. My husband thought that I wasn’t being supportive of him, yet it was the exact opposite.
After my son had calmed down I was able to relay this message in a calm, kind and respectful tone. I was absolutely supporting him, just not in the way that he wanted me to. I explained to my husband that when a baby learns to talk, they don’t start speaking in sentences right away, not even in a few weeks or months for that matter. It sometimes takes years, before they are speaking in sentences, with words we can understand. This analogy also applies to learning life skills and the lessons we’re teaching every time we have the opportunity. Most of these opportunities are brought to us with challenges. Just as my son was able to remind me to take deep breaths to calm down—he is learning and it’s all happening one day at a time and one challenge/opportunity at a time.
The following day my husband and son were connected with hugs and apologies and once again–the message did get through.