Every parent has their own method of raising children. Some are more lenient, while others are stricter; some parents give their children everything, and others make their kids work for every dime. Authoritarian parenting puts high expectations on children and has been proven ineffective. Uninvolved parenting – or offering little guidance or nurturance – is not the way to go, so what’s left? Recent generations have seen a demise in those old parenting styles and have gravitated more toward what’s known as positive parenting. Positive parenting incorporates encouragement and problem-solving rather than hostility or a rewards-based method.
Recent studies have revealed that parents who yell or nag at their children often feel anger, frustration, and guilt afterward. The children, in turn, feel angry and frustrated and often do not correct the objectionable behavior. In the end, the cycle repeats again and again with very little change.
What is Positive Parenting?
Parents who use positive parenting shy away from punishment to fix problematic behavior. Instead, they meet their children’s emotional needs through positive reinforcement, which can prevent negative behavior from occurring in the first place. Positive parenting teaches parents to “catch children being good” and give constructive feedback rather than centering on bad behavior.
Some parents are concerned that positive parenting is too soft, and kids won’t learn to recognize or react to negative emotions unless their parents help them see it – which might not serve them positively. Psychologists have discovered that positive parenting promotes confidence in kids and gives them the tools to make proper choices in life. It also boosts their self-esteem, creativity, foresight, and communication.
Practicing Positive Parenting
It’s not uncommon for parents and guardians to lose their cool and make mistakes. However, those incidents provide the perfect opportunity to show children how to apologize and model how to fix an error sincerely and effectively. Here are some of the most common practices of positive parenting:
Spending quality time with your children and modeling good behavior is one of the best things you can do to help them develop healthy relationships and raise their self-esteem. Children have an innate need for positive attention and an emotional connection. When they don’t get it, they can seek it in negative ways, leading to arguments, whining, and meltdowns. Bonding through an emotional connection can help create a deep and meaningful relationship. Many parents have significantly improved by devoting at least 10-15 minutes of individual time each day.
Setting Clear Expectations
With positive parenting, it’s crucial to set clear expectations for kids. One method is the “When-Then” method to encourage positive behavior during challenging times throughout the day. Explain to your child that handling a difficult or unwanted task can lead to more enjoyable things down the road. For example, “when” your bedroom is clean, “then” you can have screen time on the iPad. Parents who use this approach have seen their children learn quickly and handle tasks independently without being prompted.
Rewards Don’t Work
Research has shown that children who are often rewarded for their efforts are more likely to lose interest in the activity for which they earn the incentive. They are only interested in the reward and will only maintain the behavior if they continue receiving it. A better approach is to use encouragement. But avoid phrases that point to their personality or character, like “You’re the best player out there” or “You’re the smartest in class.” Instead, try to encourage the act and show how the recipient may have appreciated the gesture. Try language like “It was nice of you to ask your friend if they needed help” or “stepping in and helping out was very responsible of you.”
Enforcing natural consequences when a child starts acting up can turn bad choices into good learning opportunities. Parents should ensure that:
- Their child is capable of the expected behavior.
- The consequences are fair.
- The consequences are introduced in advance, so the child is empowered to make a choice (this makes it feel less like punishment).
For example, if a kid refuses to put on their raincoat on a rainy day, a parent could explain the natural consequence: You will get wet and uncomfortable. This allows your kid to pick whether to wear the raincoat and learn on their own what the proper decision should be.
Control What You Can
It’s impossible to always control your child’s behavior, but managing your responses is easy. This philosophy can help children take on responsibilities you’d otherwise have to nag them about, such as cleaning their room.
For example, a parent can say, “I’ll pack your school lunch if your lunchbox is cleaned.” Then assist the child with fulfilling their responsibilities and follow through. A practical method is to use a Sticky Note or a space in the kitchen for their lunchbox. If it doesn’t work out and the child must fix their own meal, it can be a good learning experience.
All About Respect
Positive parenting is about crafting a respectful relationship with your child based on clear expectations. When children establish a strong connection with their parents, they are more likely to behave and become resilient, confident, caring, and responsible adults.
Parenting is a full-time job full of joy, trials, challenges, and triumphs. There is no doubt that parenting can be rewarding and exhausting at the same time. No parent is perfect. Parent-child relationships significantly impact a child’s emotional health, basic coping and problem-solving skills, and future interpersonal skills. Through compassionate, responsive, and predictable care, young children develop the skills they need to thrive in life.
Good parents take their parenting roles seriously and can learn and develop positive parenting skills. They take responsibility for the healthy development of their children and serve as a positive role model. They care for and accompany their children from childhood to adulthood. Isn’t that what parenting is all about, anyway?