Understanding the reasons behind a child’s behaviour- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

Being a parent is no child’s play. Tiring, infuriating and never-ending, it can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope, juggling knives and a fire torch. It is because of this overwhelm that many adopt the extreme ends of the parenting spectrum, with one side being too controlling and overbearing (helicopter style) and the other side giving too much freedom in the name of love (free-range). Both styles, however, while well-intentioned, have detrimental effects on the child’s growth and emotional development. But what if there was a third way? A veritable ‘golden mean’ of parenting.

Enter Connected Parenting, a bridge between authoritative and permissive styles. Neither a dictatorship nor a free-for-all, it’s about compassion, empathy and active listening. Coined by Jennifer Kolari, a family therapist based in San Diego, Connected Parenting is a set of actions and attitudes that a parent can integrate in their everyday interaction with their little one to fortify the bond. “It is about building a relationship that allows a parent’s natural instincts to guide their choices,” Kolari explained in a video she posted on social media.

The two guiding principles of the approach are:

1. Empathy and Connection: Parents are encouraged to listen to their children with an open heart and mind. “By understanding their feelings and perspectives, parents can communicate and relate to their young ones on a deeper level, fostering an emotional bond,” says Delhi-based psychologist Dr Aarushi Dewan.

2. Emotion Coaching: With this, parents help their children comprehend and express their feelings in a healthy manner. “It fosters emotional intelligence, resilience and empathy,” says Dr Sakshi Goel, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Delhi.

Connecting Parenting, however, doesn’t shy away from setting boundaries. Instead, it offers a unique approach to discipline that focuses on understanding the reasons behind a child’s behaviour. For instance, there’s a teenager who often neglects her chores, causing tension at home. The parents, however, instead of chiding her, engage in a conversation, expressing their expectations. They even collaborate with the teenager to devise a schedule that suits everyone.

This way, they teach responsibility while maintaining a healthy connection. “The method acknowledges the importance of setting limits and is particularly effective for children who have experienced trauma or have attachment difficulties,” says Dr Goel.

Connecting Parenting also challenges the notion that a parent’s authority must come at the cost of deep attachment. “It seeks to create a space where children feel safe to express themselves without fear of rejection or judgment,” says Dr Dewan. It also values a child’s inner world above external pressures like social acceptance or productivity. In short, Connecting Parenting is not just about care-giving; it’s about building bonds that will last a lifetime.

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