- What is positive parenting?
- 5 real life examples of positive parenting solutions:
- 5 reasons to consider positive parenting
- Positive parenting often means choosing connection over correction
As a parent, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that being tough on our kids is the best way to raise them—this is called an authoritarian-style of parenting. After all, isn’t that what many of our own parents did with us? In reality, the science behind parenting tells a different story. In fact, studies have shown that positive parenting is not only more effective than strict, authoritarian parenting, but it’s also better for your child’s mental and emotional well-being. Let’s explore positive parenting solutions that have your child’s best interest at heart.
What is positive parenting?
Positive parenting is a parenting style that focuses on building a strong, loving relationship with your child, while also setting clear boundaries and expectations. It involves using positive reinforcement and focuses on building a connection between parent and child as the guiding force that will lead to behaviour changes, rather than relying on punishment or shame to change your child’s behaviour.
5 real life examples of positive parenting solutions:
So, what does positive parenting look like in practice? Here are some specific examples of how you can put positive parenting into action:
1. Show your love and affection unconditionally:
Let your child know that you love them, and that they are important to you. Hug them, kiss them, and tell them how much they mean to you. Make sure that you don’t only do this when it’s easy, like when they are being cute and compliant. It’s crucial to try your best to show love, affection and understanding when your child is driving you up the wall. This requires a lot of inner work from parents—although it’s worth noting that, as a parenting method, positive parenting requires parents to do most of the work on themselves (assessing triggers, working on our own emotional regulation to model it etc.), so that they can be the best parent for their child.
2. Be consistent:
Set clear boundaries and expectations, and follow through with consequences when your child doesn’t meet those expectations. Positive parenting does not mean you are a pushover. Quite the opposite. Boundaries are crucial as a part of positive parenting—by teaching your child to respect your boundaries, they are learning that it’s okay for them to set boundaries with others. Setting boundaries will help your child to understand what is expected of them, and will ultimately help them develop self-discipline.
3. Focus on the good:
Catch your child doing something good, and let them know how proud you are of them. This will help them to feel good about themselves and to want to continue doing well. More importantly, though, when it comes to praise, is how you praise them. Positive parents wants to encourage a growth mindset (more on that in another article), and to do so, it’s important to praise the action rather than the person. Your child is who they are, and labeling them as this or that (even positive attributes like “you got 100% on your test, you’re so smart” can have a surprisingly negative impact in the future. This is because the child will inevitably not get 100% on a test, and subconsciously (or consciously) may come to the conclusion that they are not, in fact, smart without the perfect grade. It’s always safe to praise your child’s effort, dedication, perseverance, creative thinking or problem-solving. There are so many ways to praise your child without locking them into a box with a label that they need to live up to.
4. Let your child make choices:
Give your child the freedom to make their own decisions, within limits. This will help them to develop their own sense of responsibility and to learn from their mistakes. This empowers your child and will lead to independence. For parents (especially any parent with anxiety), it’s scary to let go. It’s also nerve-wracking to figure out where the line is because we obviously want to keep our children safe. Trial and error will help you toe the line and figure out how to give your child a chance to make decisions (and mistakes) where their body and mind are still safe.
5. Listen to your child:
Show your child that you value their thoughts and feelings by really listening to what they have to say. This will help them to feel heard and understood, and to develop trust in their relationship with you.
5 reasons to consider positive parenting
There has been quite a bit of research on various parenting styles, including positive parenting. With this in mind, here are 5 reasons to consider implementing positive parenting solutions:
1. Positive parenting solutions build self-esteem
One of the key benefits of positive parenting is that it helps children develop a healthy self-esteem. When children are constantly criticized or punished for their mistakes, they can start to believe that they are not good enough. This can lead to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in their own abilities. On the other hand, when children are met with empathy and validation from their parents while going through a difficult time, their parents are modelling emotional regulation and building a strong bond that will serve the relationship as the child grows up.
2. Positive parenting results are worth the wait
While it may take longer for parents to see desired results in terms of behaviour changes when using positive parenting strategies, these parents are thinking of the long game rather than simply short-term results. This, in and of itself, is also modelling positive qualities such as patience and thinking of the big picture rather than taking the path that offers instant gratification.
3. Positive parenting solutions foster self-discipline and responsibility
Another benefit of positive parenting is that it helps children develop self-discipline and responsibility. When children are given the freedom to make their own decisions, within limits, they learn to take ownership of their actions and to think for themselves. This can help them develop the skills they need to be successful in school and in life.
4. The mental health factor
Positive parenting is also linked to better mental and emotional health in children. When children are raised in a loving, supportive environment, they are less likely to experience anxiety and depression. They are also more likely to have good social skills and to be able to form healthy relationships with others.
As we touched on earlier, one of the ways that positive parenting can support children’s mental and emotional health is by helping them to regulate their emotions. When children are able to express their feelings and to communicate their needs, and even the biggest, most illogical outburst is met with a calm and regulated parent, these children learn to manage their emotions by example. Though it may be counterintuitive, allowing children to express every range of emotion fully, as much as they need, can help curb ongoing outbursts and tantrums in the long term. It also helps them learn to cope with stress and difficult situations in a healthy way.
5. Positive parenting solutions for empathy
Another important aspect of positive parenting is that it helps children to develop empathy and compassion. When parents model empathy and understanding, children learn to see things from others’ perspectives and to care about the feelings of others. Talk is cheap—you can tell your kids to be empathetic and kind all you want, but your children will ultimately emulate your behaviour over your words. Modelling kindness can help them to be more kind and considerate. It can also help them form strong, healthy relationships.
Positive parenting often means choosing connection over correction
Connection is the key to everything described above. One phrase to consider is “connection over correction.” Obviously parents need to correct their children sometimes, nothing is black and white. But this phrase can help but things into perspective.
There are certain situations where you might pause and think, hmm, is it worth sacrificing the connection with my child in this moment to correct a mistake? Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes you may find that it’s no. At the end of the day, no one can tell you how to act or react in each and every moment.
The best we can do is read and learn as much as we can, love our children fiercely, and do our best.