Kathy’s Window: I discovered connective parenting – I’m blown away (PART I)

What if there was a different way of parenting your kids that built up their self-esteem and the parent-child relationship? Connection parenting may be the answer. I certainly am intrigued by the concept.

An over-50 Generation Xer sees life through a new lens: Kathy’s Window is where Kathy shares her thoughts on the world through a new lens. From growing up in the 70s and 80s to having three Generation-Z kids, and going through certain experiences in her life, she now sees the world in a different way. Ideas that were considered the norm in the 70s, 80s and 90s are now no longer socially relevant or acceptable. Kathy explores the new ideas through the lens of someone who has been on both sides of the ‘glass’.


I’M a podcast fanatic. When you do a lot of commuting, it’s great to have someone interesting to listen to while you drive. One of the podcasts I enjoy is called Peace and Parenting where Michelle Kenney, who has a Master’s in Education, talks about parenting your children using connection instead of rewards and punishment. When I first heard about the concept, I was intrigued.

Parenting is really hard. Children have minds of their own and can act out at times. For some parents, it’s almost all the time. Most parents use the system of rewards and punishments to ‘teach’ their children to behave. But do rewards and punishments really work? Some parenting advocates believe they don’t and that they just make things worse. Instead, they advocate for a total 360-degree shift in parenting, where you connect with your child when they are acting out instead of punishing them, thereby helping them to regulate their emotions and calm down.

Although I’m no longer a parent of children – all my kids are young adults now – I’m fascinated by this concept as I saw some of it at play in my parenting journey. I saw how destructive or just plain a waste of time the rewards and punishment system was and how much my kids responded to connection better. Even the fancy star charts didn’t work – I tried them so many times. When I stopped trying to run my homeschool like a school and instead came alongside my kids while they enjoyed their learning, the whole atmosphere changed. And they thrived. In the podcast, Michelle has shared stories of her own parenting and that of other parents – how their children become so soft and gentle (and much happier) after they changed to connective parenting.

Also read: Kathy’s Window: Dry brushing and lymphatic massage – how it helped me

Why use this form of parenting? It sounds like lazy or permissive parenting – no, it’s not. When the brain is under stress, it is unable to process and learn. Children are always learning, and when they act out, it’s a symptom of stress of some kind – either an intense emotion that they cannot process – even a positive emotion like excitement – or overstimulation or confusion. When our brains feel safe, we are able to process things, learn to regulate our emotions and also learn the workings of life and relationships. Connection calms a child’s brain down and enables them to learn to solve conflict and how to respond more maturely to situations. When we connect, we can also teach them how to regulate their emotions in a safe and gentle way which they respond and learn from much quicker and more efficiently.

Also read: Get involved in the Caxton Big Draw Competition

When we get angry with our kids, we are not regulating our own emotions and therefore not setting an example to them on how to regulate their emotions. Now, I know how hard it is to not get angry at times, and Michelle speaks about not allowing shame as a parent to bring you down. It’s a process and it takes time for you, as a parent, to form a habit, too. As you take time to connect with them and see how it calms them, it will also help you learn to calm yourself down. It’s all about acknowledging how you are feeling and showing compassion towards yourself, too!

How do you do this? There is no set way, and every parent and child is unique, and you have to learn your own tune together. There are some great materials out there if you look up ‘connective parenting’ on the internet.

Read Part II of this article to get some tips on connective parenting for your child according to their age.

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