Melting Meltdowns with Connection

Melting Meltdowns with Connection

One small step can make a big difference! Here’s how Rachel Duhon, Therapist at River City Psychological Services in Grand Rapids, MI, used SAY WHAT YOU SEE in a way that will melt your heart:

As a parent, it has always been a top priority to have a loving, healthy relationship with my children. I thought that I was doing a great job as a parent in being consistent and available to my girls. In hindsight though, my approach left much to be desired in the arena of emotional attachment.


I viewed myself as the leader, therefore, what I stated needed to be listened to and obeyed immediately. I was not harsh, but very firm, and would say things such as, “You will do what I say,” and “You will respect me.”


Looking back, I can see how I completely overlooked my oldest daughter’s need for connection, and actually made her feel more frustrated and alone. Because I was consistent, my girls were pretty responsive to this style, but it just felt like something was missing.


I happened to come upon The Language of Listening and instantly knew this was the parenting style for me. It spoke to my inner voice, and I knew this was what my girls needed.


I think the best example I can give is when my oldest daughter (4 YO) has a meltdown. Previously, when she was yelling and screaming and throwing things around, I would tell her, “It’s OK for you to scream and cry and throw your soft stuff, but you need to go do that in your room. You can come out when you’re calm.” This inevitably led to her escalating more as she would run screaming from her room, and I’d lead her back, over and over again.


Now, when she is melting down, I look to understand what her need is.* Usually, it is connection. So instead of banning her to her room, I will pick her up, wrap my arms around her, and simply say what I see, “You are feeling pretty upset right now.” That’s it. That’s all I have to do for her. She’ll instantly nod her head and turn her body towards me. We sit together for a while and then she’s calm and ready to venture off.


Most times, she will even come back to me later in the day and tell me, “Mom, I was really upset.” We have the most wonderful conversations afterwards, and she will typically say on her own, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”


I absolutely love this model. It has given me so much more understanding and inner peace when I’m faced with problem behaviors, and my girls feel accepted exactly as they are. It is such a straightforward approach, but the results are amazing. I am so glad I found this model!

We are grateful to Rachel for sharing her story here on our blog. If you have Language of Listening stories you would like to share, please contact us. Just tell us what you did and how your child responded. Your story may inspire someone else to try the 3-step Heart Model to make the difference they’ve been longing for in their relationship with their child.


*Note: If your child’s need for power is greater than his/her need for connection, you will know because the child will refuse your hugs. When that happens, try this instead.

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