What is Positive Parenting and why is it important? Positive parenting is an approach built on mutual respect. According to author Debbie Godfrey, positive parenting techniques are “for parents who want to discipline their kids without breaking their spirit.” But, what does this actually mean?
Positive parenting is a parenting approach built on mutual respect. Parenting built on mutual respect means we handle our children as individuals and not as our own property. As human beings with feelings and the ability to think, process, and make judgments on their own.
Long gone are the days of “because I said so” and “I’m your parent and that’s the way it is.” If we want our children to listen to our words, thoughts, and feelings, then we need to lead by example.
We’ve gathered our all-time favorite nuggets of advice from our board of advisers in one outstanding article that will have a profound effect on your whole family.
1. Consequences that make sense
Children need consequences. It is important for them to understand consequences to their actions, whether they be good or bad, positive or negative.
When we say something kind or encouraging to our friends, the consequences are a smile and feeling happy. When we push our friend, the consequences are, my friend gets mad at me and doesn’t want to play.
When we make consequences for our children’s actions to help teach them valuable lessons, they need to make sense.
Positive Parenting Tips:
If a child has not cleaned up when they were supposed to clean up and they were given clear instructions, warning, and timeframe, then a consequence that makes sense to that situation is having those toys removed for a while.
If a child hit someone or hurt someone, then an appropriate consequence would be to have that child help the other child feel better. Holding up an ice pack, getting them a band-aid etc.
If a child threw their meal down on the ground, telling them they can’t go outside because they threw their food down.
If a child ripped up someone’s artwork and saying they now can’t have dessert.
The reason our consequences should make sense to the incident that occurred is to help teach the child why we don’t throw our food or rip someone’s artwork. When their consequence follows suit, it helps to drives the message home.
2. Validate, empathize, sympathize
Make sure your child knows that you have heard them. Validate what they want and how they feel. You will not be able to successfully get across your point unless they too feel respected.
Positive Parenting Tips:
If your child is crying because they want a popsicle, but dinner is in 15 minutes, first repeat them so they know you understand them:
Kids under three- “I want a popsicle!” “I hear you! When we eat our dinner, we can have our popsicle.” Your child will probably still be upset and that is understandable. Let them be. After a few minutes, try to distract them or have them get involved in something different.
Kids older than three, you could say “I see you really want that popsicle. I understand. We can have the popsicle just as soon as dinner is done.”
Children who have gained the mental insight to reason can have explanations and not be so heavily steered by distraction.
Talk to your child like an individual. Use age-appropriate language. Do not assume your child is too little to understand.
Respecting your child is to communicate with them appropriately throughout the day. As an individual yourself, you enjoy knowing what will happen in your day, so you can plan and predict. You also like understanding why things occur. It helps us process our world around us.
Children are the same. Be open and communicative with your children throughout the day.
Positive Parenting Tips:
“We are going to the store because we need to buy some tomatoes. You are such a great helper; can you help me pick them out? “
“When we get to school today, we will only have 5 minutes to play, then I will take you into the classroom and kiss you goodbye.”
By giving your child the information needed to predict their day, will greatly help eliminate tantrums.
6. Give them warnings
Along with communicating, we need to give our children warnings before the deadline; this will allow our children the time they need to mentally prepare.
As an individual, you would not like something sprung on you and expected it done right away, you would like a warning, as do children.
Positive Parenting Tips:
“In 5 minutes we will clean up our blocks and have dinner”
“After you color this page, we will need to get dressed for the day.”
Warnings are very helpful for children who have a difficult time with transitions.
7. Clear expectations of what is wanted
We want to set our children up for success, we want them to know what is expected of them and what we are looking for in their actions.
Positive Parenting Tips:
“I need you to put your books away,” as opposed to “clean up.”
It is hard for children to read in-between the lines and it is hard for them to decode, we need to make instructions for them clear and simple. To make sure they clearly understand our instructions, have your children repeat you, or ask them about what you said, “What do you need to pick up?”
Create Your Own Quality Time
Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.
Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.
Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.
Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad — early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.
Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals — like bedtimes and game night — that you do together.
Be a Good Role Model
Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.
Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.
Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.
Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right?
Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your job to set a great standard.
Respect parenting differences. Support your spouse’s basic approach to raising kids — unless it’s way out of line. Criticizing or arguing with your partner will do more harm to your marriage and your child’s sense of security than if you accept standards that are different from your own.
Know the Best Ways to Praise
Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, “You’re great,” try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, “Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience.”
Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.
Gossip about your kids. Fact: What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child “catch” you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.
Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, chances are you’re right.
Just say “No.” Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.
Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect.
Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life — your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter — to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.
Don’t Forget to Teach Social Skills
Ask your children three “you” questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, “Did you have fun at school?”; “What did you do at the party you went to?”; or “Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon?”
Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.
Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, “How did that feel?” and “What do you think would make it better?” Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.