Relationship Repair

Every parent & carer gets angry sometimes & arguments are natural in families. What’s important is how we make up again, or ‘repair’. This is especially so for a child with an insecure attachment, for whom any conflict immediately becomes about the relationship & their fear of losing you.

Try to see conflict as an opportunity for repair, rather than as a failure. Seeing it this way means no-one needs to be blamed. If we can accept the expression of all emotions as being normal, rather than seeing anger as a sign of disrespect, then it becomes easier to stay in connection with our child. Repair is all about re-connection.

When making sense of what has happened, aim to teach & not to punish. Working through big feelings together & understanding each other’s perspective better is very useful for strengthening relationships. Communicating thoughts & feelings takes practice – try to do it with kindness. Try to be persistently PACE-ful with yourself & your child (playful, accepting, curious & empathic). Create an atmosphere that is generally comfortable & this will help at times of stress. We want our child to be able to express appropriate guilt & learn how to make amends, rather than feel shame.

Save evaluation for behaviour. Speaking with empathy rather than anger can help keep the focus on behaviour. Being ‘sad’ for how difficult your child has found it to make good choices is usually more effective than getting ‘mad’. If any anger is short & related to the effects of the behaviour, your child is less likely to go into shame & repair will be easier.

Being able to acknowledge your own mistakes, apologise & move on quickly, is great modelling for your child & will help them learn conflict is not to be feared & does not threaten the underlying strength of your relationship.

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