Stopping Behavior Issues – “Connection Before Correction”
This past week, heroic High School football coach Keanon Lowe disarmed a student who had brought a loaded shotgun to school.
A security camera caught Lowe backing out of a room holding the shotgun in one hand and holding onto the student with the other. Someone then ran and grabbed the gun away from Lowe.
Lowe then hugged the student, who then hugged him back and broke down sobbing in Lowe’s arms.
Read that last line again – it contains an important clue for handling kids who misbehave; even in an extreme situation like this.
It’s the principle of “Connection before correction.”
Over my 30+ years of teaching martial arts I’ve used this principle successfully to help hundreds of kids with behavior issues in my martial arts program and now I’d like to share it with you.
Here’s what it’s all about…
Pioneering child-psychologist Alfred Adler concluded that “a misbehaving child is a discouraged child.”
All kids have the innate need to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of significance. When these needs aren’t met, a child becomes discouraged and engages in behaviors (or misbehaviors) in attempts to get those needs met.
Most parents react by trying to stop the behaviors using either the carrot or the stick approach, rewarding good behaviors or punishing misbehavior.
While these 2 timeless approaches may work in the short term, they quickly become counter-productive and in the long-term do more harm than good.
What works in them long term is emotionally connecting with the child BEFORE trying to correct the behavior.
The next time your child misbehaves, remind yourself that this behavior is their way of saying “I’m a child; I want to feel that I am significant and that I belong, but I don’t know how.”
Instead of yelling, punishing or bribing, use a healthy dose of compassion and say something like “I can see you are feeling angry/sad/upset… What’s bothering you sweetie?”
Then listen. Let them vent. Validate their feelings without judging.
Sometimes that’s ALL it takes to stop the behavior.
For the times it doesn’t, it will set the frame that you and your child are on the same team, rather than “you vs. your child.“
Won’t that make things easier?