While many of us can still taste the soap in our mouths from the many times we swore during childhood, parenting in modern-day is focused on more hugging and less harshness. Positive parenting, in particular, paves the way for a type of raising kiddos that focuses on talk, respect, and emotional need.
Of course, parenting this way isn’t always easy: It’s often difficult to be perpetually positive (especially before morning coffee). Besides, as parents we’re only human, and kids certainly know how to push our buttons.
Still, many find that positive parenting is worth it. So, what does it entail, how is it beneficial to the parent/child bond, and what are the many ways to bring it into your home?
To get started, check out these positive parenting tips……
What is Positive Parenting
Positive parenting, as the name insinuates, involves parenting based on positivity. Moms and dads who engage in this type of childrearing do so on the foundation that children want to do the right thing and are born with an innate goodness. Parents foster this goodness through a foundation of respect, encouragement, and gentle instruction.
Positive parenting focuses on discipline, teaching kids to behave respectfully not out of fear but because it’s the right thing to do. Children learn to want to be good rather than feel as though they have no other choice.
In many ways, positive parenting intends to head bad behavior off at the pass: Rather than punishing bad deeds, it aims to parent proactively, stopping kids from misbehaving in the first place. That’s a key to its success: It’s better to avoid a mess than clean one up!
Why Positive Parenting Works
There are several reasons to give positive parenting a try, including:
Stopping the Cycle:
Punishment is often delivered as means to deter but it backfires frequently. In other words, a child who is dealt swift and over-reaching restriction is likely to act out with more defiance. This keeps the cycle of misbehaving turning. Positive parenting strives to break the cycle once and for all.
A Stronger Parent/Child Bond:
Positive parenting improves the bond between parent and child by removing yelling, power struggles, and punishments that make a child feel unheard. All of this is replaced by respect, communication, and an invitation for feedback.
Positive parenting helps children believe in themselves and their abilities and perform better in school. They experience more resiliency too, able to better rebound from setbacks or adversities. All of this translates into greater mental wellness.
Enhanced Social Function:
Kids who are parented in a positive manner tend to have enhanced social skills (perhaps driven by their improved self-esteem). This makes them more likely to problem-solve and repair relationships and less likely to be bullies or troublemakers.
Less Stress for Mom and Dad:
Positive parenting isn’t just about children; it’s about parents too. Parents who spend more time lauding and less time screaming enjoy higher self-esteem and more confidence in their ability to raise tiny humans. They also have decreased everyday stress, driven by the fact that their child is more likely to behave and less likely to set the living room carpet on fire.
How to Embrace Positive Parenting
Now that you know why to embrace positive parenting, how do you do it? The following list is a good place to start:
Look for Signs:
Kids don’t misbehave for the thrill of it (at least most don’t, anyway) – there’s a reason for rebellion. If your child is acting defiant, hitting their sibling, or skipping school, find out why. Even if you don’t give your kid the solution they want (e.g., you refuse to ship their little sister to Mongolia so they can be an only child), they’ll at least see that their needs matter. And that counts for a lot!
Getting to the root of the problem allows you to help your child problem solve in a healthy way as well. Instead of skipping school because they don’t understand math, for instance, you can discuss getting them a tutor.
Stay the Course:
When you parent your child with respect, care, and kindness, they learn to offer you the same things in return. They also learn that cooperation will get them further than insurrection.
But, at the same time, engaging in positive parenting doesn’t mean being a pushover; you can be firm without being fierce. Set limits, maintain boundaries, and stick to your guns in a way that is gentle and congenial.
Discipline with Care:
In keeping with the above, positive parenting doesn’t mean going soft on authority, abandoning rearing to let your child do whatever they want without any repercussions. But punishment, especially harsh punishment, isn’t as corrective as most parents think. Rather than telling your child to stop doing something “bad”, try encouraging them to start doing something “good”.
One way to do this is through the idea of “time-in”. Time-ins are timeouts reinvented; they don’t remove the parent from the child but alternatively remove the child from the over-stimulating situation and then keep the parent nearby until the child calms down. This way, time-ins don’t feel like punishment but instead like opportunities for the child to regulate and gain their bearings.
In order for kids to listen to others, they need to have a buy-in and a connection. Unfortunately, punishment risks breaking this bond, leaving children disconnect and selectively hard of hearing. So, do the opposite: If your child is acting up more than usual, set some time aside for good old-fashioned bonding. Even an extra 20-minutes a day of one-on-one time can make a world of difference. Strengthening that connection will strengthen your child’s attentiveness to instruction.
Keep Keeping On:
Perhaps the most important thing in parenthood is consistency. This is potently true when delving out consequences. If your child does something wrong and is met with a consequence one day and not the next, you’ll send mixed messages and undermine yourself as an authority.
Along these lines, voicing empty threats teaches your child that you don’t mean what you say and that they can get away with things even when they shouldn’t. Make sure consequences follow mutually agreed upon rules that allow your child to have a buy-in.
Consider Brain Development:
Not all childish behavior is equal: A teenager throwing a tantrum in the middle of Sears is much different than a toddler throwing one. Toddlers do not have the brain development to express their feelings using words – they can’t regulate themselves or settle down on their own.
Keep this in mind when it comes to fallout. Don’t expect to use logic when speaking to a three-year-old; instead, redirect them or remove them from the overwhelming situation. Remember, consequences simply don’t work on children too young to understand them.
Shun the Shaming:
There’s nothing positive about shaming, which is why it’s shunned in positive parenting. Shame makes children feel bad about themselves, harming their self-esteem and setting the stage for bad behavioral choices in the future.
It’s okay to comment on your child’s bad doings but focus on their actions rather than what those actions say about them as a person. For instance, you can convey your displeasure for your child’s decision to punch their little brother but avoid calling them a bully or telling them that they’re mean.
It probably comes as no surprise that positive parenting involves positive reinforcement. If you see your child do something nice, laud them, and encourage them to do it again. Give them more attention for good behavior than you ever do for bad.
You don’t need to engage in an elaborate reward program, offering to make them a chocolate cake or buying them a toy each time they play with others without calling names or pulling hair, but acknowledge their efforts and convey your pride. This helps them foster a strong sense of self while inviting them to do good more often.
Take a Break When You Need it:
While we often think of timeouts as something limited to toddlerhood, parents need occasional timeouts too (or, as we perhaps may call them, “happy hours”). Taking a break (and a breath!) keeps you from reverting back to not-so-positive parenting, no matter how exhausted and frustrated you are by something your kiddo just did.
Not only that, but grounding yourself before you lose your temper teaches your children how to act under stress. If they see you blowing your top, they’ll learn that they can lose their cool too.
Embrace Teachable Moments:
Teachable moments might sound like things that appeared at the endings of 1980s sitcoms, but in real life, these moments do exist!
When your child is making a mistake (or making a scene), use it as a learning opportunity. For example, if your child throws their doll because they don’t want to play with it anymore, take a moment to teach your child a better way to discard old items (such as donating them to the local community center). This is also the perfect time to encourage your child to use their words when expressing their feelings.
If patience came in a bottle, it would be a bestseller among parents. In fact, patience, patience, and more patience are key elements of positive parenting. The reason is that no child will go from demon to angel overnight – kids will still be kids and challenge you from time-to-time.
At the start of positive parenting, your child may require more explanation and handholding but keeping up with it makes way for actual and tangible change. And this change can carry your kid all the way into adulthood.
Positive parenting is not a miracle worker: Parenting is hard no matter how you do it. But childrearing with respect, communication, and consideration of emotional needs isn’t only better for your child, it’s better for you too. It decreases poor behavior, improves the family bond, and ups the odds that your child will call and visit you in your old age.