Positive parenting is an approach I chose for our family when my first child was about 2 years old. Before I read about and started implementing the positive parenting approach, we used the time out in the bedroom method and we let our kiddo cry it out at bedtime. Heartbreaking. I feel ashamed as a mother that I started my parenting journey this way.
But, we quickly turned things around when I realized that negative actions only made my child more angry and defiant and he started to respond positively to calm, gentle, positive parenting.
It may seem like a no brainer that positive over negative parenting will win, but if that thought is not even in mind, you're probably not even realizing that your parenting method may be negative.
What Is Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting is highly focused on creating a strong relationship with children and parents bonded with mutual respect and communication. When using the positive parenting approach, you not only define the rule but you also explain why that rule is important.
When the positive parenting approach is used, children do not obey orders based on fear of punishment but because they understand why they need to perform the task at hand and its importance.
Parents who use this approach layout rules and consequences and often discuss them with their children. Most importantly, any consequences that are discussed should be followed through. I do wish we were more consistent in my family on this aspect of positive parenting, however, my husband and I aren't always on the same page for discipline and so this can become a problem once in a while, but also, something we are working on.
One of the most important aspects of positive parenting is actively listening to the children. Trying to understand their thoughts so you can better understand the reason behind their actions and correct any behavior issues from the core. This is one of my hardest struggles with my 5-year-old because he does not yet know how to communicate his thoughts, so trying to figure out his feelings is a puzzle. But we try and we carry on as best we can.
The Benefits Of Positive Parenting
Positive parenting helps children love themselves and develop self-discipline through the loving guidance of the parent. Children respond to gentle guidance rather than punishments and threats and therefore positive parenting is the most effective form of discipline.
Here are some of the benefits of positive parenting :
- A better understanding of feelings
- Stronger relationships
- Reduced misbehavior
6 Tips To Implement Positive Parenting
1. Regulating your own reactions
Children copy your behavior, so if you can regulate your reaction in a positive and calm way, your children will be able to see that this is the right way to handle situations. If you are constantly flying off the handle and yelling, your kids will yell back at you. I know how difficult it is to not get angry sometimes when your children continue behavior that is defiant.
My trick is to turn away from my child and take a deep breath. Remind myself that this child is just a child and he does not know much better, I need to teach him how to handle his emotions.
Then I can calmly turn back around, smile gently and have a calm chat about the situation.
2. Treat Your Children How You Wish They Would Treat Themselves
The way that you talk to your child will greatly affect the way that your child will talk to themselves. If you use harsh punishment and harsh words, then your child's inner voice will have the same tone.
If you discipline your children harshly, they will never learn proper self - discipline. Research Gate states that harsh punishment results in worse behavior.
So basically, if you are constantly punishing your child in a negative way, they will learn to talk to themselves negatively, act out harder and essentially never learn self-discipline.
3. Say YES instead of NO, even when you mean NO.
Children are likely to respond positively to a request if the request is made gently. If you can find a way to say yes even when you really mean no, your children will see the yes as a positive instead of negative and be more compliant.
For example: "Yes it is time to get off the computer and Yes you can definitely play more games on it tomorrow. Yes, you can leave your game on and come right back to it later. Yes, you can be upset about it and Yes if we hurry and put on our pj's we can squeeze in an extra book at bedtime."
Getting away from the negative NO can be LIFECHANGING for your family. See this article for more information on the power of saying YES instead of NO.
4. Avoid Time Outs
Timeouts are a form of banishment and are most definitely a negative parenting approach. They cause the child to feel humiliated and small. Not only do time outs deteriorate the relationship between you and your child, but they also don't teach the child a lot about the situation that got them into that time out.
For more information about why time outs do not work, read this really great article from ahaparenting.
5. Strengthen Your Relationships Daily
Every night before I head to bed, I reflect on my day and how my children reacted to me and how I reacted to them that day. If something did not go the way I had wanted it to, I will put it in my planner as an action step to complete the next day with my child.
My child will say things such as I hate you and I wish you didn't live in the house when I set a boundary that may seem unfair to my child. Those words cut me deep, I suppose I am a very sensitive person and it is so hard for me to realize that my child is 5 years old and doesn't really know what he is saying. It is now my responsibility to react in a positive way and diffuse this situation. During my daily reflection time, if I believe I could have done better in a situation like this, I try to talk to my child about it the next day. Talking and listening to each other strengthens our bond.
6. In a situation where one child may be causing harm to another, set your limits but connect through empathy
For example, if my sons are hitting each other, It is a good idea to break up that situation by saying something like Hitting is not allowed in this house, you can tell your brother what you need and how you feel without hitting.
Positive Parenting And You
To recap, positive parenting creates strong relationships with your children through words of encouragement rather than harsh punishment. To use the positive parenting approach you start off with regulating your own reactions followed by treating your children how you wish they would treat themselves. Saying positive words such as YES more than NO and avoiding time outs can really strengthen your relationship. Setting limits with empathy in roughhousing situations rather than yelling at your children to stop beating each other up will likely help your children to listen and comply with your request due to an understanding/reason of the rule.
What do you think about the positive parenting approach? Do you think that this is something that you could implement in your family? Let me know why or why not in the comments, I would love to hear about it!