Principle 1

Connection and compassion is the secret

Remember that connection and compassion is the secret that helps children WANT to follow your lead.
We only have influence with our child when they feel connected to us. They only feel connected when they feel seen and understood, when we respond with compassion and acceptance instead of shaming disapproval and judgement.

Compassion and kindness isn’t only for your child.
It starts with yourself. You can’t be a loving parent if you’re feeling bad about yourself, any more than your child can act “right” if they feel bad about themselves.

When all else fails, make yourself a cuppa, give yourself a big hug and remember you can hit the reset button anytime. Then give your child a big hug.

Connection and compassion will transform any relationship.
Don’t believe it? Try prioritising connection and compassion this week and see what kind of miracle you can make.

As children grow they implicitly have 3 questions answered by how we, as parents and caregivers, treat them. They want to know…

1. What is my worth as a person?
2. How do I relate to others?
3. What is my place in the world?

The answers then form their core beliefs about themselves, positive or negative, that will become the foundation in their live.


Principle 2

Re-connect, every day

Never forget that at the core of every child, they long for connection with their parent or caregiver. So when a child feels disconnected they feel distressed. Remember that every interaction is an opportunity for either connection or disconnection. Try to have at least a period of time during your day where you turn off the phone, close the computer, and tell your child by your attention that they matter!!

“Ok, I’m all yours for the next 20 minutes. What should we do?”
Follow their lead. The world is full of humiliation for kids, so for these 20 minutes just be an incompetent bumbler and let them win. Giggling releases pent-up fears and anxiety, so make sure to play, giggle, be silly. Have a pillow fight. Wrestle. Snuggle. Let them tell you what’s on her mind, let them rant or cry. Just accept all those feelings. Be 100% present. Feeling DELIGHT in your child may be the most important factor in their development.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 3

Practice finding ways to Say YES

Children will do almost anything we request if we make the request with a loving heart. Find a way to say YES instead of NO even while you set your limit.

“YES, it’s time to clean up, and YES I will help you when I’ve finished the dishes and YES we can leave your tower up and YES you can growl about it and YES if we hurry we can read an extra story and YES we can make this fun and YES I adore you and YES how did I get so lucky to be your parent? YES!”
Your child will respond with the generosity of spirit that matches yours.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 4

Remember that all “misbehaviour” is an expression, however misguided, of a legitimate need

They have a reason for their chosen behaviour, even if you don’t think it’s a good one. When the behaviour is terrible they must feel terrible inside. Again, think about a time when your own behaviour was unhelpful, did you also feel terrible inside?

Does your child need more sleep, more connection with you, more downtime, more chance to cry and release those upsetting emotions we all store up? Address the underlying need and you can modify and redirect the unwanted behaviour.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 5

Teach kids how to take responsibility

Ingraining responsibility in children is not a trick but is simply teaching them a valuable life skill. It is not just about completing a task, It’s also about nurturing an attitude, the idea of taking action and being proud of doing it.
Children who do not have responsibilities often feel entitled and think the world will always do it for them. This does not prepare them for the real world when they are older. The moto is… start out how you want them to finish.

1. Start young.
Begin with the early lesson that we all clean up our own messes, by matter-of-factually grabbing paper towels and helping your child clean up his spilled milk, pack up toys without blaming and shaming. You can’t suddenly spring responsibility on a teenager and expect they will know how to follow through.

2. Let them help you.
Don’t grumble and mope when it’s time to do housework, what message are you sending your child. Smile and invite your child to help (even if he makes the job take longer). It’s teamwork and precious time with your child and a lesson that will one day send him off into the world with the ability to recognise and complete tasks.
When you invite your child to participate, they feel valued, and feel good about helping and learn to take ownership of their home and feel pride in maintaining it.

3. Show kids the way.
Be mindful of your child’s skill level. First, you can demonstrate how to complete small tasks. If your child wants a snack, show them where the apples are and how to wash one off. Does your child always throw their dirty clothes on the floor? Place a basket in their room and show them where the dirty clothes belong.
Ensure responsibilities age-appropriate and even use the word “responsibility, when assigning your child a task you expect them to complete on their own. It sounds grown-up and important.

4. Model responsibility.
Model the behaviour you are want to foster in your children. For example, if you want to teach them to take their of dirty dishes to the sink.. try: “Now we put our dirty plate in the sink,” as the meal ends. Use the same inclusive “we” phrases over and over to show how you can easily solve problems together. Ask other family members to follow suit. You’ll be surprised how quickly these actions become a new habit.

5. Praise them.
Children love to help and want to help. To them, chores don’t feel like work. Keep up positive vibes by offering specific praises for actions. “Well done, you hung your coat up, I’m proud of you!” Or, “Thank you for emptying the garbage in your room!”
Children will develop a sense of ownership for any repeated action. And this constant communication helps them take initiative in other situations, such as at school, at grandma’s house or on a play date.

6. Manage your expectations.
Be realistic knowing when you ask your 5-year-old to make their bed, it may still be lopsided. Don’t criticise or correct their effort. Recognise a job well done. The next time you make your own bed, show her how you do it. Children learn by seeing what you do.

7. Avoid rewards.
There’s a time and place for rewards and allowances, but being responsible isn’t it. Don’t assume a reward system has to be in place for your child to learn responsibility. While a reward chart can be effective for some kids, others respond just as well to praise, spending time with you and feeling the boost in their self-confidence. Save rewards for tasks that go above and beyond what you expect to be your child’s normal household responsibilities.

8. Provide structure and routine.
Children thrive on order that comes from routines. Instead of offering rewards to get them to meet responsibilities, set up a morning-evening routines with a positive end result. Example, your child must get dressed, eat breakfast and brush their teeth, before watching TV. Notice TV is not being offered as a reward. It’s just the result of finishing the routine.
In time they should be able to complete the routine without much prompting. Allow some flexibility where appropriate.
A younger child may not fully realise these tasks are his responsibilities, but allowing him to create a healthy structure will give him the tools to one day develop strategies and self-discipline for getting homework done without you nagging…too much!

9. Teach Consequences – Privilege and responsibility
Teaching your child to take care of their things also helps your child develop a sense of responsibility for their actions. Help them to realise the privilege of doing or having something comes with responsibility. They want to do an art project, have an agreement with your child ahead of time that they will need to clean up after their art project, also informing him that he won’t be able to play with his crayons and scissors until the next day if he leaves a messy table. Then you need to follow through and take away his supplies if he shirks his responsibility. Help them to realise the privilege of doing or having something comes with responsibility.
The more you enforce the rules, the more likely they are to clean up without being asked, or at least without whining about it too much.
Parents sometimes avoid dealing with their child’s emotions when they anticipate the child will feel sad or angry because the child doesn’t want to stop playing or pack up yet. If we fall into the trap of always solving children’s problems, they will not learn to be responsible as they grow up.

Teaching children about responsibility and respect isn’t easy, but what part of parenting is? It can take years and lots of practice. But if you follow these tips, you stand a better chance of raising a responsible, respectful child who then grows into a responsible, respectful adult.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 6

Set limits — but set them with empathy

All relationships need boundaries.
Children need to know the rules that set clear boundaries and limits in your family. When they don’t get it right it is helpful to take time to acknowledge things from their perspective.

Setting Boundaries with Kids
Your discipline and boundary setting
1. Less is more.
2. Be precise.
3. Involve the kids in boundary setting.
4. Draw up a contract.
5. Post the rules.
6. Recognize appropriate behavior.
7. Avoid labeling children as “good” and “bad”.
8. NEVER undermine the other parent.

“It looks like you wanted your sister to move, so you pushed her. Remember, no pushing; pushing hurts. Use your words to ask her ‘Can you move please!'”

“I understand you’re really mad and hurt! But no biting! Tell your brother — in words.”

“I can see you are enjoying your playtime and it’s hard to stop playing to get ready for bed. I’m letting you know you have 5 min left then we need to pack up and get ready for bed. Ok”

“No throwing the ball in the house. You can take the ball outside, or you can throw soft toys inside.”

When kids feel understood, they’re more able to accept redirection towards our limits. If possible, give them a choice or a redirection about what the child CAN do to meet their needs or solve their problem.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship conflict, not just parent-child.


Principle 7

Connect before you correct

Connect before you correct, and stay connected, even while you guide, to awaken your child’s desire to be their best self. Remember that children misbehave when they feel bad about themselves or something else that is happening in their little world but emotionally feels so big for them, so they disconnect from us through their behaviour.

  • Make loving eye contact: “It sounds like you’re really upset about …..”
  • Put your hand on her shoulder: “It seems like maybe you’re scared/sad/mad – help them name the feeling. This helps them build emotional intelligence.
  • Stoop down to their level and look them in the eye: “It looks like you’re really mad … “Can you tell me about….. I’m listening”.
  • Help them use their words and name their feelings.
  • Pick them up or snuggle beside them: “Nothing’s going right for you today, is it?”
Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 8

Give support so they can learn

Predictability, routines and boundaries provide the “scaffolding” support for your child to learn basic and necessary life skills, just as scaffolding provides structural support for a building to take shape. Remove the scaffolding too soon puts the building is at risk cracks forming or even collapsing.

You might be mad that they forgot their coat again, but yelling or shaming won’t help them remember next time. “Scaffolding” will.

Consider the example of toilet training. You’re very involved at first then they gradually take over more of the responsibility, and eventually they are doing it all by themselves. The same principle holds for helping them to learn to say thank you, taking turns in play, remembering their belongings, feeding the pet, doing their homework, and most everything else you can think of.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 9

Empathise with feelings

Have you considered what is happening inside your child when they are overwhelmed by emotion? The brain and nervous system have become flooded with adrenaline and has activated their fight, flight or freeze hormones. When they are in this state it can be helpful to realise they can’t learn from or hear your instructions while in this state.

Instead of reacting or lecturing, where possible try to notice the early signs that their big emotions are building and intervene before they are in a full meltdown. “Time-In” where you stay with them and take time to acknowledge how they are feeling can be very effective rather than opting to scold and punish them. See this as an opportunity to reconnect so they can get emotionally regulated through connection with you. If they are in emotional meltdown, don’t try to reason with them it is useless.

Think about a time yourself when you have an emotional unregulated (we have all had those moments), think about what was helpful and what wasn’t?
Focus on seeking to create a safe space by using your compassion and understanding so they can express and work through the emotions that are driving their unwanted behaviour. Afterward, when they are feeling calmer, and so much closer to you rather than alienated from you, they will be open about why they were so upset about whatever it was and then be able to hear your suggestions and guidance.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.


Principle 10

Regulate your own emotions

This is the first step to building and maintaining a good relationship with not only your child but other people in your life. Truth is no matter how much you love the person you are in a relationship with, at some points in time you will feel disappointed, frustrated or stressed at/with/by another person. So let’s be real for a moment, we ALL have times where we need to manage difficult emotions that arise in situations. So it is not a case of “if”, but “when”. So the question is how you manage those moments? Your response will either strengthen trust and closeness between you both or cause damage to the bond between you.

So when you are confronted with those “moments” and you can feel that unhelpful reaction arising in you, what are you going to do? You get to choose what happens next. The only person you can control in that moment it yourself as the grown-up.

So, take a deep slow breath Calm all the way down. Eat, have a shower, go for a walk, or close your eyes for a few minutes—whatever calms you. Take time for the sad, mad, or scared feelings to work their way through.

Children look to adults to help them regulate their big emotions that can explode inside of them. That’s how children learn to manage theirs. You’re the role model. Don’t react when you’re upset. Take a deep breath and wait until you’re calm before you address the situation. Resist the impulse to be reactive, it never goes well and tends to be shaming and destructive; this always backfires.

Hint: These principles shared can be used in any relationship context, not just parent-child.