Ruptures and Repairs: Building a strong connection with your child
Children benefit when parents provide structure in their lives. Some parens might have a harder time providing a consistent structure, as they feel pressured to give in to the demands of the child. Or they do not like to see their child in distress. It is typical that when a child is provided with a limit she will express her dissatisfaction. When a child hears a 'no' she might sense that her desire or whatever she did was 'wrong.' A very sensitive child might even think that she is bad, or wrong herself. This might lead to a sense of being rejected. The child might withdraw or become oppositional. The key to staying in connection during such limit-setting interactions is to reflect back to your child what her desire was about, without actually fulfilling her wish. 'I hear you like to have a cookie, but it is too close to dinner. Maybe you can have one after dinner.' This is a very different experience for the child than hearing: 'No, You can't have it!'
These kinds of interventions can help a child move beyond his frustration. However, sometimes the child stays upset. Allowing the child to have this distress without trying to fix it, indulge in it, or punish him can allow him the opportunity to learn how to tolerate his distress.
Parents can learn how to parent more effectively by reflecting on past unsatisfying experiences and trying to figure out what they could have done differently. And of course, there is not one way, there are many different ways