The Magic Formula: Decrease Stress and Increase Connection to Inspire Cooperation

Peace at Home March 31, 2023 | Ruth Freeman, Stephanie Rondeau,

In the midst of day to day stress, creating and maintaining connection with your child can take tremendous focus and effort. In times of conflict, it’s easy to let stress overcome other thought processes. This can lead to a spiraling pattern between you and your child—your stress can increase theirs, leading to decreased cooperation. All of this leads to more stress, and the cycle continues. This is why it’s important to try to work on your connection with your child before times of increased stress arise. 

Consider the following ways to strengthen your parent-child connection. You may notice less conflict and more cooperation overall: 

  • Respond with warmth. Both before and during times of stress, notice the tone and voice with which you respond to your child. Young children respond best to calm, melodic voices. Even as they get older, they will pick up on stress and anger in your voice. These will increase their stress levels. Take the time to listen to your own tone and adjust accordingly. It can make a world of difference in your communication with your child. 
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings. It’s no secret that children have big feelings about things that may seem insignificant to adults. But in their world, those things are just as important as our stressors are. Try to recognize your child’s feelings as valid, even when you don’t quite understand. Helping children to feel seen and heard increases their sense of connection, leading to better cooperation with you. 
  • Accept your child as a unique person. In addition to recognizing their feelings, try to make a point to remember that your child is a unique individual. Just like you and your partner may have different ideas and perspectives, your child will have their own as well. 
  • Spend quality time together. Quality, focused time together is an excellent way to build your connection with your child. Consider putting the phone away in another room, and doing an activity that your child chooses specifically for the two of you. Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference in your relationship. 
  • Notice your own stress. Your child’s mood will often mirror your own, so high stress times for you can easily lead to high stress levels for them. Consider learning more about stress management for yourself if this is something that you know you struggle with. 

A quick way to put all this together in a few words is “connection before correction.” Take time to connect with your children to increase cooperation in your household.

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