At the end of every day when Jack and I are lying in bed, we debrief from our day with Roses and Thorns. Roses are the good parts of our day that make us feel happy while Thorns are the times of our day that might have made us feel frustrated, angry or sad.

This is a great way for us both to express some of the things that happened during our days both while we were together and apart from one another.

I get to hear some great things that happened at school and I also learn about some of the things that aren’t working well. This then leads us into conversations about all sorts of things. Ways we can make our days better, things we can do more of because they’re enjoyable, ways we can use our words to express our feelings and avoid frustration and things we can do better the next day because we always have another chance.

This is the time we get to repair any hiccups we had that day because the repair part of conflict is where the lesson is. Those challenges are our opportunities as parents to teach valuable life lessons and character skills that we hope our children will hold onto into adulthood.

For many, many months bedtime was tearing our family apart and I knew I needed to make some serious changes. The best decision I’ve made is to make it about connection. I stopped looking at the clock and let go of all of the things I “needed” to do after the kids went to bed. I decided that all those things could wait because Jack will never remember that I worked after he went to bed but he will remember the time we spent lying in bed together talking about the things that truly matter.

As he gets older, I hope those conversations evolve and will include bigger people problems and feelings.

Remember, if you want your kids to talk to you about what’s happening in their lives when they’re teenagers and beyond, you have to start talking to them about their lives as toddlers and all the way through.

There’s always a learning curve but I’m realizing that if you spend more of your efforts connecting with your child instead of spending your time punishing them, you can solve almost 100% of all challenging behavior. Forget about correcting the undesired behavior. Instead check yourself to make sure you’re spending enough time connecting with your child. You might see the behavior disappear on its own without even needing to address it.