1. Overview

  • If you kids don’t listen, follow instructions or requests, or are “hardened” to your anger, you have a connection problem.

  • If you regularly “have to” yell, punish or give consequences or time-outs, you have a connection problem.

  • Being more connected is rewarding in and of itself.

  • All our interactions either help develop or degrade our connection and quantity leads to quality.

  • There are all kinds of separations that require reconnection throughout the day. These are even more important to small children.

  • You can’t parent while you are disconnected. You are only bossing or “managing.”

  • Defiance is the biggest indicator of a lack of connection.

  • Remember your “bank account” with each of your kids.

  • “Special Time” is the best way to show and deepen connection. It also helps us develop trust, empathy and partnership with our kids.

  • Other ways to develop and maintain connection include small rituals, frequent hugs, technology free and family time, focusing exclusively on your kids while reconnecting, making sure you have at least a 5:1 positive to negative interaction ratio and really listening to them.

2. Connection Levels

  • How much are you investing? How much time are you really putting in? What’s your overall attitude while doing it?

  • You have to invest emotionally, so your “tank” needs to have something in it. It provides a basis for empathy and accepting their emotions (if not their behavior).

  • We need to come to grips with the time and work required both to avoid resentment and to start to figure out how this works for you and your kids.

3. Connection Comes First

  • We have to be connected before we can use any strategy: “Connection is primary. Strategy is secondary.”

  • Our kids are the textbook. We need to “read” them to learn how
    to parent.

  • Trying different strategies without a real feel for or connection in the relationship can confuse our kids and leave them feeling more disconnected.

  • Connected kids are more ready to cooperate.

  • When we are connected, we will be able to know what strategy will work for our child.

4. Roots and Wings

  • Preparing kids for independence is important, but are we rushing it?

  • We want independence and emotional intelligence. If we rush/push independence, we may impair emotional intelligence and connection.

  • True independence is rooted in a deep connection with us as parents.

  • Roots will allow our kids to grow wings and fly when they are
    developmentally ready.

5. Parent/Child Partnership

  • Being open to learning from our kids makes it easier to form a
    partnership with them.

  • That partnership will last into adulthood.

  • Having respect for them, really listening to them and not just being the boss is a big part of this. (Respect yields respect in return.)

6. North Star

  • We are or can be the “anchor” in their lives or their North Star to guide them through the seas of life.

  • If we are their North Star, we can have real influence when other voices, including peers, send them other messages as they get older.

  • Our love and acceptance will encourage them to come to us and
    continue to use us as a source of love, belonging, guidance
    and information.

  • It’s never too late to work on and change our connection with them.

  • They really need to know that we love and value them no matter what.

7. Reconnecting

  • All kinds of separations happen through the day. Our kids are
    physically or emotionally away from us for many reasons.

  • Anxiety, nervousness and sadness are common reactions.

  • These feeling have to be managed and are experienced as stress.

  • These feelings come out or leak out in irritability, tantrums
    and “misbehaving”.

  • We can help by reconnecting and developing reconnection rituals.

  • Undivided attention is key to reconnecting.

  • “Pausing” briefly during our “essential” routines to reconnect can restart or jumpstart them to run smoothly.

8. Perfection and Failure

  • “Perfection is impossible, and failure is inevitable”

  • Every interaction helps or hurts our relationship to some extent.

  • We will fail, so we need to be prepared to repair and reconnect even in the middle of an interaction.

  • We don’t need to get hung up on the fact that we failed or did
    poorly in some moment. We need to remember that we can repair and
    reconnect, return to the moment and the relationship.

9. Special Time

  • 10 minutes dedicated to each child doing something they choose. (You can occasionally take a turn.)

  • You are making the investment of time. You are showing them that they are really worth your time and that you enjoy them.

10. How to do Special Time

  • You and one child

  • 10-15 minutes time limit. (Treat it like recess at school or a
    special game that has rules. When it’s over, we have to wait
    for tomorrow.)

  • Your child’s special time is “________’s Time.” Use
    their name. It’s their time.

  • You child chooses the activity. Anything you can make safe is fine.
    It’s their time.

  • No electronics. Your undivided attention is required. It’s
    their time.

  • Begin the timer.

  • Do the activity.

  • Encourage communication. Ask open ended questions. If they don’t want to talk, it’s OK. It’s their time.

  • When the timer goes off, Special Time ends.

  • Do this every day. Make the time.

11. The Four Causes of Misbehavior

  • Kids misbehave because they are discouraged about the current state of belonging or fitting in.

  • It’s because they don’t feel they can fit in “by normal means”.

  • This does not include stuff that happens when they are sick, hungry
    or thirsty or that reflects their lack of skills and development.

  • Go over the chart below to reflect on your kid’s causes of misbehavior, needs and stages of responsibility.

Fig. 1 – Goals of Misbehavior

Questions to Journal

  • How would you describe your connection to your parents?
  • How would you describe your connection to your kids at this point?
  • How would you describe your kids’ connection to their other parent?
  • What do you feel limits your ability to connect?
  • How can you work on having more in your “emotional tank” to stay connected this week?


Nick Chambers, The Life-Style Dad, Mastering the Art of Parenting
videos KP:6 - KP:13
(scroll down to near the bottom of the page)


Dr. Laura Markham, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kinds: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting (2012)

Verses for the Week

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Hebrews 12:11
No learning process seems pleasant at the time. It’s painful. Later on, however, it produces the fruit of right character and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Leviticus 19:17, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Prayer for the Week

Help me to be mindful of myself this week. Help me to remember to take
care of myself, so I can take better care of my children. Please remind
me to pay attention to what I am thinking before I act, so I can respond
rather than react. Help me prepare my child well for their future. Amen.