Kiddos + Connection: The Essential Ingredient

Recently, I attended a conference unlike any I’d been to before. During sign in, a person in brightly colored clothing, beaming from ear-to-ear, invited us to choose an animal from the photos of a skunk, cow, crab and butterfly that lined the aprons they wore. In a split-second decision and unsure of what to expect, I steered clear of skunk (after all, I hadn’t even finished my coffee yet and it felt a bit too early in the morning for anything skunk-related) and opted for a gentle butterfly.

The smiling woman took my hand in hers. We locked thumbs and locked eyes, each of our hands creating wings to the butterfly. We flapped together in unison, not breaking eye contact. Time seemed to slow down as I caught myself fully immersed in the present moment. “Welcome,” she said through grinning teeth.

This was only the very first of such playful experiences I would have over the course of a 2-day Conscious Discipline (CD) conference. From singing and dancing with hundreds of participants, to handing out “Oops. You made a mistake. You are BEAUTIFUL” cards aimed at normalizing “mistakes” and reframing them as courageous learnings, I felt engaged and connected. I would later learn about the many I Love You Rituals that foster connection throughout the lifespan:

I became a part of a larger community during the conference, my presence and assigned role at our table (the “Greeter”) encouraging me to feel like an essential piece of the whole pie. This, says Dr. Becky Bailey, is part of the magic to her model.  As I experienced authentic connection, my body (brain, nervous system, heart) shifted to create a brain state in which I felt safe, connected and ready to learn. Conscious Discipline takes the child’s current state of being into account and suggests adults respond to the child accordingly in order for interventions (discipline, problem-solving, guidance, reflection, etc) to be effective.

There is far too much inspiring information, tools and ideas to share in one blog post! The CD web platform is chalk-full of stuff I’ve found super helpful both as a professional and as a parent. Dr. Bailey has created tools and content focused on three unique environments: the classroom, at home or during counseling sessions! One of the most important pieces I learned was the essential ingredients to connection, which you can find below.

For educators, challenging yourself to connect authentically with each of your students each day, even if just for a few seconds (like a greeting at the door that engages each element below) can go a long way in relationship building.

For parents, notice how increasing moments of presence with your kids helps open lines of communication, build trust and better manage conflict.

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