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We ask a Parenting Coach for you: How do I build a Secure & Connected Relationship with my child?

School’s started – and you feel a sense of relief that the holidays are over! 

With the transition back to school, you may have noticed that the children seem to be having more meltdowns and having more “attention-seeking” behaviours. 
In this blog post, Aunty has partnered with Ava Gao from The Curious Mama to help you navigate this issue.

If you have ever wondered how you can stop your child from behaving “badly”, or what you can do to manage their behaviour, the model – Circle of Security can give you an insight on why children behave the way they do, how you can manage your own struggles around certain attachment needs and find respectful ways to set boundaries.

Circle of Security (COS) is based on decades of research about how secure parent-child relationships can be supported and strengthened. COS states that behind every behaviour there is a need, and through effectively reading your child’s cues, you’ll be able to focus on meeting those needs. Through responsive and attuned caregiving, children can develop a greater capacity to organize their feelings, leading to increased self-awareness, emotional resilience, and the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships.

In the long term, children who have a secure attachment with at least one adult will likely to:

  • Do better in school
  • Have better friendships 
  • Enjoy greater physical health
  • Enjoy higher self-esteem
  • Enjoy more fulfilling relationships throughout life

The need for attention is actually a need for connection. A child’s behaviour is a form of communication and it is driven by the need for an emotional connection. Children need emotional connection with their parents as a secure base to explore the world and they need it to be a safe haven to come back to when things get too difficult. 

It is possible to control your child’s behaviour by threats, rules and rewards, but stickers, treats and timeouts lose their effectiveness eventually. The thing that really changes them is your presence and unconditional love. Children are likely to behave well when they are feeling secure in their emotional connectedness and safe in our love. 

Here are some tips to start building security and connection with your child after the school holidays: 

  • Build in connection “bridges”: This is linked to the need of “comfort me” need in COS. Share with them that you can’t wait to see them after school and tell them what you are looking forward to doing with them after school – whether it is enjoying a favourite snack together or reading a book together. For some children who might need additional reassurance, you can draw a heart shape on their palms or put a special keychain on their school bags for them to look at when they miss you in school.

  • Listen with Compassion: This is linked to the need of “Organise my Feelings” and “Being With” in COS.  Allow them to have down-time after school, and find pockets of time – whether it is over meals or during bedtime to chat about what is happening in school and how they are feeling about school, friends and their teachers. Refrain from commenting, teaching or scolding – set aside distractions to focus on engaging them and actively listening with compassion. This allows children to feel that they are being seen, heard and supported by their parents.

  • For parents with more than one child – Spend 1:1 quality time with each child: Take one child out for an activity that you both enjoy together – like eating ice cream waffles, attending a dance class, or go for a walk in nature. Spending time one to one with a child helps to fill up their love tank and gives you an opportunity to have a heart to heart chat with your child and get to know their current interests and thoughts.

  • Stick to family rituals: Family rituals give children a sense of security, identity and belonging. They are special things that you do together, and they create shared memories and build family relationships and bonds.  Rituals can also comfort children in transitions or unfamiliar circumstances. For example, my family enjoys a MacDonald’s breakfast every Saturday morning and no matter what we are and whether it is a school term or holidays, we keep to this ritual to get a sense of familiarity and connection within the family. 

  • Practice Self-Care: Taking care of your own well-being is crucial for maintaining a secure and connected relationship with your child. Prioritize self-care activities that recharge and rejuvenate you. When you are emotionally balanced and calm, you can better support your child’s emotional needs and create a nurturing environment.

If you need someone to care for your other child(ren) during these 1:1 dates, you can reach out to Aunty to engage a local and trusted babysitter. 

Building a secure and connected relationship with your child after the school holidays requires patience, understanding, and consistent effort. By building in connection bridges, listening with compassion, spending quality time with each child and practising self-care, you can strengthen your bond and support your child’s emotional well-being as they navigate the transition back to school. Remember, building a strong relationship takes time but the investment is worth it. 

I have an online workshop – “Decoding Your Child’s Emotional Needs”, where you can learn to understand your child’s behaviours by learning to read the emotional needs that will help you to support & strengthen a secure relationship with your child.

Enjoy a $10 discount to “Decoding Your Child’s Emotional Needs” online workshop by using the discount code ‘AUNTY10’. Click HERE to join the training, and start enjoying a strong relationship with your child (yay to lesser power struggles!)

About The Author 

Ava (she/her) is a Motherhood & Parenting Coach, who works with mothers to thrive in the beautiful chaos of motherhood – without losing themselves.  She combines her lived experience as a mother to two children and training in Mindfulness, Motherhood Sociology & Attachment Science to journey with mothers in making informed choices in parenting that works for them and their family and honours their values & relationship with their children. 

As a certified Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator, she believes that when mothers have the tools and insight to read their children’s needs underneath their behaviours, their relationship with children can be supported and strengthened – which translates to less power struggles and more cooperation from their children.  She invites mothers to rediscover and reconnect with their values, deepen awareness, & build a greater understanding of themselves and their families.

She offers 1:1 coaching, group programme and workshops (in-person & online). She also organises a monthly Mama Circle – where it aims to be a safe and compassionate space for mamas & anyone who identifies to be a mama to connect, share and get supported. Babies & toddlers are welcomed in the space that is curated for child-led & open-ended play during the circle. 

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