Empowered to Connect

Posts by Colleen Derksen

What Do You Need?

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Monday, November 23, 2015

I took the kids camping all by myself this summer. Actually, a friend was there with her kids, and we were at a campsite in a town, but still… Anytime I tackle something like that without Brian, I’m going to consider it a major accomplishment! Anyway, the first night was a little rough. One of [...]

Remember — Sad Can Look Mad!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I’m learning over and over that we need to be proactive as parents when it comes to our kids’ emotional worlds. Instead of ignoring the situation and hoping it will go away, we need to face it head-on. This is the only way our kids will learn to manage and express their emotions in healthy ways.

Learning to Tame BIG Feelings

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

The other day, I heard the words many of us dread: “You’re a bad mommy.” I was also informed by my son that I was teaching the kids how to be mean, not kind.

Honestly, I had to agree with him. The moments leading up to his accusation had not been filled with exemplary parenting. I had yelled and been unkind, throwing around phrases like, “I’m sick and tired of you always ________!” Not my best moment.

So, as he said those words, I knew I had a crucial decision to make. I could dig in my heels, insisting that he deserved what he got and had no right to question me, or I could acknowledge that I had made mistakes and there was truth to what he had said.

Don’t Embarrass Me

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It’s something I struggle with, these feelings of embarrassment that drive me to respond in less than desirable ways. Whether it’s a meltdown in the grocery store, a display of defiance at church, or a poorly timed observation, I too often find myself thinking about what other people are thinking instead of what my children need.

If I’m embarrassed, I’m unlikely to recognize their behaviour for what it is: an unmet need. Honestly, I’m more comfortable thinking of meltdowns and defiance as misbehaviour that needs to be disciplined rather than as needs that need to be met with equal parts nurture and structure. The more we learn about our children, though, the more we are realizing that what we used to think of as misbehaviour is actually an opportunity for us to meet a need and connect with them. The correction will come, but often it needs to wait until the need has been met and my child and I are re-connected. Sometimes their needs are physical – hunger, thirst, exhaustion, sensory overload – and other times their needs are emotional – unexpressed sadness, fear, and frustration. Whatever the case, I will not be able to see past the behaviour to the need if I am blinded by my own embarrassment.

Being With

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The ability to see, think, and feel things from another’s perspective – to empathize – can be difficult for anyone, especially parents. I often find myself more focused on what my kids should be doing rather than considering why they’re doing what they’re doing.

What we know is that empathy is learned. If I want my children to learn to respond with empathy, then it is up to me to model it for them. This requires that I acknowledge their emotional reality even if I can’t give them what they want in that moment. This means that I need to slow down, at least long enough to look in their eyes and let them know that I’m with them. That if they’re hurting, I’m hurting. That I am on their side; that I am for them. That their feelings and their hearts and our connection are more important than my schedule.