Updated: May 22, 2021
Confrontation can happen with anyone, including our own children. Learning how to confront our children without shaming them or experiencing a spill over of frustration, is a necessary skill for parents to have a peaceful home.
One of the many amazing qualities of children is that they like to test boundaries and they are not the best at following directions. They often have their own ideas on how they would like to navigate the world, which may be contrary to our vision for them. It is important to validate their curiosity, determination, passion, creativity, etc. while setting a boundary or re-directing them.
When children know you are seeing their strengths, they are more apt to remain calm and track what you say.
Next time your kiddo is up to mischief and testing those boundaries, use this scrip to help redirect their behavior.
Calm Confrontation Script
Get physically close to them and get to their eye level if you can.
Take a visible deep breath and get their attention by saying their name in a calm, yet firm voice.
Start with "I see/hear..."
Then, "I think/feel..."
Finally, "I expect/want/need you to..."
Now that you have the script, let's talk about why these elements are helpful.
When you start with "I see/hear," you are sharing what you are observing your child doing. You want to stick to factual information here, instead of judgments. You can say, "I see you want that toy Bobby is playing with." Or, "I see you are upset." Or, "I hear that you like candy." This validates their actions, they feel seen, and you now have leverage for the next part of the script.
Moving onto "I think/feel" is the time you make a positive evaluation of your child's intention, even if they are behaving in negative ways. You can say, "I think you are trying to get your needs met." Or, "I feel happy when you use your kind word." Or, "I think you might be overwhelmed." This makes you their ally and they are more likely to collaborate with you when they feel supported by you, and you feel better because you are evaluating their behavior positively.
At last, you can state how you want their behavior to change or stay the same. You can say "You were being a good friend when you shared your toys." Or, "I want you to use your inside voice." Or "I expect that you use your hands for playing, not for hitting." From here, you can help them achieve that expectation by redirecting them or giving them alternatives.
I hope this short script helps you connect with your child and remain a peaceful ally for your kiddo(s).