Why Connection Isn’t a Reward for Rude Behavior

Sometimes our children’s cries for connection can come in the most unflattering of ways. Their behavior can make connection the last thing we want to do at time and in these times sometimes if we take a step back and see it as a cry for help it can be much easier to give them what they need. It was in remembering this that I found the solution to our latest dilemma.

My oldest son has been going through a period of frustration.  He’s having a hard time at school and he’s learning some new skills that are clearly taxing his brain so things have been a little tense around here lately. Pretty early this morning he got very frustrated because his drawing wasn’t going right. He started to yell at me and demanded that I get him more paper so he could start over. He called me a name.  I didn’t want to get him more paper for many reasons, mostly because I was happy drinking my coffee and I didn’t like him yelling at me.  We’ve had many conversations about this and he insists he needs to be alone when he is frustrated, and for the most part, I believe him and leave him alone.


So in an effort to give us both some space, I asked my daughter if she wanted to have some hot cocoa on the deck.  My son, glaring at me says “ You are just trying to get away from me.” I felt the challenge – the power struggle rising in my chest. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wanted to reply “Well, yeah…duh” but

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instead of reacting, I paused and saw that statement for what it was – a plea for inclusion and acceptance. So I invited him. At a time when many parents would sit their child in time out or send them to their room or punish them in some way – I included mine. I did not reward him as some may see it. I reconnected with him and I helped him. I invited him. I gave him quiet acceptance. Instead of replying that, yes, I needed space from him I said just the opposite –  “I would love for you to join us. It is so peaceful up there. Let’s go.” And we did. And his mood changed, he relaxed and recovered and talked with us.

We sat in silence on the deck for a bit and finally he said “Mom, you know what calms me down?” “What?” I asked.  “Nature calms me down. Not noise that people make, like cars and other sounds. Nature calms me down.” I nodded. “Yes it does, doesn’t it? We have been forgetting about that lately.  I think maybe we found a good place to calm down.” He smiled and said “Maybe so.”  Maybe so.

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2 thoughts on “Why Connection Isn’t a Reward for Rude Behavior

  1. Wow – I shall have to remember this in my less than stellar moments. I have yet to punish (although my daughter isn’t as old as your son), and while I’m pretty good at stopping to reconnect if my hands aren’t covered in sausage meat (as they were today) I have to say that I struggle when there are things I need to get done and my daughter is having a tough day. A great reminder to include her wherever I can when we have these moments!

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