When children are upset and unable to think logically, our response is often getting upset and frustrated, too. During these moments, children are thinking exclusively with their emotional right brains. Overwhelmed by the emotion, they can’t think with their logical left brains yet.
Rather than force our logic upon them getting angry that they aren’t listening, try this: Connect and Redirect.
First, connect your emotional right brain with their emotional right brain. After than connection is established, you can help redirect their logical left brain to think rationally about a situation.
This technique is from Daniel Siegel’s and Tina Payne Bryson’s book The Whole-Brain Child.
Here are four ways the authors suggest you can connect with the child:
- Physical touch
- Facial expressions
- Tone of voice
- Non-judgmental listening
Once you establish that emotional connection with empathy, making them feel felt and heard, they will be more receptive to logical thinking.
Next, redirect with reason.
Strategize about how the child can overcome the cause of the problem. Help them think logically about the situation. Create a plan of action for next time they will confront this challenge.
I was shocked by how well this worked the first time I tried it with my kids.
One of my daughters was having a melt down among a group of friends. I pulled her aside and rather than getting angry about her emotions like I usually did, I knelt down at her level and listened. I gave her a hug. I calmly affirmed her emotions. She started to calm down, then we talked about how she could re-enter the situation differently. Magically, it worked. She returned to her friends a new person.