It was a 5 minute interaction that made this clear: Connection Before Correction.
We had just come home from our afternoon walk. Brooke takes off her jacket and throws it on the ground. I say, “Brooke, please put your jacket away.” She starts running off. I say it again in a louder and sterner voice. She doesn’t look back. I take the jacket to her, hold her arm and say, “Brooke, put it away.” She tries to pull away.
And then I remember that I had been away for the weekend and been coming home later than usual. So I get down on the floor and say, “Okay, can I hold you?” She looks at me and nods ‘yes.’ So I sit there and hold her. We don’t say a word, I just hold her and stroke her hair while she sucks on her thumb (she still does that). I would let her decide when she’s done. Three minutes go by. Then she looks up at me and I say, “Darling, can you put your jacket away?” She stands up, fumbles around looking for the hood and hangs her jacket on the hook, then runs off happily.
I’m home with my kids everyday, so overall, I feel connected to my children, but I don’t know how they feel. Then I figured it out. When they act out, they don’t feel connected. That’s when I know it’s time to give them more.