Let’s talk about tough love. So to begin, when a baby is born our job is to teach them unconditional love. When a baby cries, we comfort, when it’s hungry, we feed it, when it’s scared, we reassure them. As the baby moves to toddlerhood we set major boundaries. We want to keep our babies safe, so we are their eyes and ears. As they grow they have more boundaries and they are more aware of their surroundings, so by the time they are teenagers they have instincts on what is safe and unsafe (for the most part).
Trust is earned, love is given.
Tough love should not be turning our backs on our kids. When our teenagers are starting to rebel, they want to see who cares. Chase after your kids always. Grab and hug them when they are sad, angry, or quiet. We have to let our kids know we will always be there for them. Some kids verbally lash out, others like to run to their rooms, while others will just stay quiet and be unresponsive. In all these situations we have to break down the walls and get through their thick little (adorable) heads. For the verbal kids I allow them to speak their feelings and/or opinions and I stop them if they are disrespectful. The runners, I follow, I hug them, sit with them and work through their feelings. The hardest one for me is the unresponsive, I hug my child and then give them options to label their feelings. I ask if they are mad, angry, frustrated? I also tell them I am not moving from here until you tell me what is going on. Letting your child know you are there no matter what, will change your relationship.
The idea that a parent would turn their back on a child is awful. Every child has something that is important to them. Start by taking things away and having them earn it back. You set the tone for respect at a very early age. Follow through! If you give a consequence and want to change it (say you said something out of anger, “ I will throw away your dvd if you don’t clean your room”). Change it and let them know that you’re in charge, no matter what your decision. You probably bought that dvd anyways. Explain why you’re making your decisions too, because that will help them understand why you do things you do, and later help them talk to you about what they’re going through. Hugging your teenager might be awkward at first if you haven’t been hugging them all along. I can tell you there have been many studies done regarding touch, people thrive by being hugged and touched. You are the parent and you will always be the parent. Remember what you do will impact generations to come.