What exactly is positive parenting?
Is it some unattainable ideal? An urban legend? Something to aspire to, yet never achieve?
In its essence, positive parenting simply means guiding our kids down the right path in a positive, gentle, and loving way.
Does that mean failing to discipline our children? Absolutely not! Instead, it challenges us as parents to think about discipline in a different way.
There are times when I find myself getting impatient with my kids when I shouldn’t. Instead, when I’ve tried the “positive parenting” approach, I’ve noticed a huge change in how my kids react and respond in the future. We all are impatient and the results aren’t great. This flows into our kids.
Below are a few tips to help with positive parenting. Whether you use all of these tips or just a couple, chances are you will see different – and more positive – results in your kids, and yourself!
1. First of all, focus on controlling yourself, not just your kids.
When parents model the type of behavior they’d like to see out of their kids, chances are the kids will follow their example. When we lose our cool, the kids notice and tend to react the same way. Whenever things get tense and you become upset, take a moment for a breather and take a “cool-down”. Then re-evaluate.
2. Be consistent.
I see so many parents who threaten to discipline their children and then don’t follow through. If you see your children hitting, biting, or misbehaving, let them know that isn’t the way to act (in a kind, gentle manor of course). If it continues, remove them from the situation.
3. Praise the behavior you like.
Kids often act up to get attention from their parents or grown ups around them. Is your child throwing a tantrum? Walk away and your child will learn there are other and better ways to communicate. When you see your child doing something that is pleasing to you or being obedient and happy, praise him for it! Say, “I love how you are (fill in the blank)” or “It makes me so happy when you (fill in the blank).”
4. Don’t bribe.
When kids know that they will get a treat or reward if they behave, they know the other times, they do not have to obey or behave. Offering your child a reward sends the wrong message. Yes, it’s ok to reward your children occasionally after they’ve done something well or please you in some way. However, when you let them know if they behave, they will get a treat, that sends the wrong message. They should behave because they know it’s the right thing to do and not because there is something in it for them.
I love the book, You Go First (Little Critter Books). This book reiterates exactly what we want to teach our kids: treating others the way you want to be treated is the way to go.
My 4-year old (at the time) read this book and told me exactly what it meant to treat others the way he wants to be treated. Of course, because of his age, it’s hard to remember when in the moment, but he’ll come up to me and say “Remember what the Little Critter says – to treat others how I want to be treated.” Voila – he got it!
We’d love to hear your positive parenting tips! What’s your favorite?