Coincidentally, this topic just came up in a recent RIE class. We discussed biting and how our reactions can help (or hinder) our child’s understanding of their behavior.
- “My son did not need me to make him feel bad, just because he had mistakenly made me feel pain. He needed to know I have faith in his ability to do better, to learn, to make amends. He needed to know that the right thing to do about making mistakes is to apologize wholeheartedly. He needed to understand what he could have done differently.”
- “We will all have moments when we will receive messages from our children in a totally different way than they mean it. … And if we can make the choice to see our child’s mistakes as opportunities to offer guidance we can help them grow well.”
- “There is no doubt that as your child grows, they will make choices that turn out to be mistakes. Misbehavior in childhood is guaranteed to happen. Being willing to accept, validate, listen and offer guidance instead of punishment is sure to make a positive difference in their life.”
This simple change in mindset, viewing our children’s “misbehavior” as an unmet need or as a learning opportunity, makes a world of a difference in helping us moderate our responses. We can gently but firmly offer them an alternative, more appropriate way to meet this need, or give them the words to better communicate what they’re trying to tell us. In this way we can teach them and guide them instead of punishing them, because most of the time, they truly don’t know any better… yet. They just need our help to learn what’s expected of them.