Our children need to hear that they are good and loveable… and that our love is consistent and dependable. And they never need to hear this more than when they are acting out. Yes, kids need boundaries around some behaviors – but then we must follow up and remind our child that even when she inevitably engages in that list of behaviors, our love doesn’t change.

When we come down hard on a behavior without affirming our connectedness, children take in messages that they are bad. And when we leave kids alone after a meltdown or difficult moment, kids take in that parts of them, the parts that struggle, are unattachable… maybe even unloveable.

An example: “I won’t let you knock down your sister’s tower… I’m sure you notice I’m upset, but also please know: I love you the same amount now as I did before this happens. Nothing you do will ever change how much I love you.”

Another example: “You had a really rough time earlier today.  It’s ok.  I’m here. I’ll always be here.  You’re a good kid… a good kid who was having a hard time.  We all have days like that.  I love you.  So much. Nothing you do or say could ever change that.” Rub your child on the back or offer him a hug.

Kids need to know that a parent’s love is dependable and won’t change based on good or bad behavior. This actually helps them feel more stable and secure, which ironically promotes more regulated behavior.

Start a new habit today: connect deeply with your child after a meltdown or tantrum or argument.  Directly affirm your child’s worth and loveability even when your child says, “Ok Mom… enough… I get it!” Don’t take the bait of your child’s annoyance or rejection… your child absolutely needs to hear these things, especially as combined with your calm supportive presence.

A child’s secure attachment depends on a parent’s ability to see goodness on the inside under struggle on the outside.  And as always… start with yourself.  Affirm your goodness under your less-than-ideal behavior so you can extend the same kindness to your children.

Try This At Home:

After your child’s meltdown, when you are calmer as well, find her and say this, softly and warmly:

You’re a good kid. You’re a good kid who was having a hard time. That’s ok. I’m right here with you. Nothing you do or say could ever change how much I love you.”