Thanks to Stephanie Parker, Parenting by Connection Instructor in the UK for this guest post, about how the way we set limits with our children can be a wonderful way to heal connections.
When Innes was four she was going through a period of not connecting so well with her Dad. In the past they’d had a brilliant relationship but for a number of reasons it had not been that way for a while.
Innes enjoyed putting our cutlery on the table at breakfast time. However she always pulled out the camping spoon for Jim to eat his breakfast with. It wasn’t a particularly nice spoon but she was adamant that was the spoon Daddy was going to have. We always seemed to be in a rush in the morning so there was no time to set a limit and listen to her feelings.
After a few days I realised that I needed to do something about this as I could see how much tension Innes was carrying about it.
The next morning I made sure there was plenty of time to set a limit around it as we had breakfast slightly earlier. As usual Innes went to get the camping spoon out of the draw to give to daddy. I moved right in close to her and prevented her from picking this spoon up. I said ‘today we’re going to give daddy a different spoon, not this one’. ‘No’ she shouted ‘this is daddy’s spoon’. I continued to set the limit and repeat what I’d already said. It’s best to keep things simple here and not go into a big explanation as to why I wasn’t letting her give daddy this spoon.
Innes started to cry very loudly, she was also angry that I wouldn’t let her give daddy that spoon and kept running away from me into another room. I followed her as I want her to know I am there for her when she’s having strong feelings, I don’t want her to be on her own with them. I gently asked her to come and eat her breakfast but for a while she wouldn’t and kept crying and screaming at me.
She finally sat up at the table but tried to pull her chair right up to me and away from her Dad. I set another limit by stopping her from moving her chair and I gently said ‘we are going to leave your chair where it is’. She started to cry again and I listened and told her I loved her and daddy loves her and that she’s safe. After a few minutes of tears she ate her breakfast and then we had to leave for kindy.
When she got home from kindy she was in a very happy mood, much happier than she’d been in a while and she stayed like this for the next few days. She was also much more connected to her dad and they were back to their close and loving relationship. She didn’t try and give her dad the camping spoon again but happily gave him the same spoon as me.