The sun’s just up, and already there is a commotion over who gets to use the phone. Now, this is not that type of phone that keeps the brood preoccupied with the endless libraries of songs, games, and videos but a pretend mobile phone with a touchpad that lights up and plays a melody. Who gets to “talk to someone” over it is a big deal.
I would usually sit and watch if they can sort it out on their own but I do not want the fight to escalate this early in the morning. I have not had my double shot coffee yet In I go into the throes of the battlefield. “Ok, this mobile phone will be taken away until you both learn to share. You will have to go to your rooms and think about what you did.” They know there are consequences, and the time apart will let that simmer. It takes two to tango. The little one pushed the older one, and the older one stirred the little one. It’s not a time out but taking away the precious phone and spending time apart will help them remember the house rules.
It is not all that simple but we do have family rules. The children know there are consequences when they fight, do not share, or any other issues that arise. So it makes life a lot better.
We are constantly striving to do our best as parents. Actor Ewan McGregor is widely quoted saying “The thing about parenting rules is there aren’t any. That’s what makes it so difficult.” We have our fair share of child rearing issues at home. Who doesn’t? They come sporadically, and often unannounced. I have been practicing positive parenting and learned under the Triple P Positive Parenting Program. The goal of the program is to equip parents with knowledge and know-how to tackle a multitude of the many challenges of raising children. Doesn’t a parenting guide like this sound like a good idea? Let me share more about it.
So What Exactly Is Positive Parenting?
According to psychologists, positive parenting is a parenting style wherein parents (or caregivers) provide affectionate, encouraging, but not intrusive environment to children while teaching good behavior. This parenting style presupposes that children are innately good and have the natural propensity to do the right thing (Godfrey, 2019 positiveparenting.com).
The universal definition of positive parenting is the continual relationship of a parent(s) and a child that includes caring, teaching, leading, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently and unconditionally. (Seay et al., 2014, p. 207)
These classifications were also suggested for positive parenting: it involves guiding, leading, teaching, caring, empowering, nurturing, sensitive to the child’s needs, consistent, always non-violent, and provides the following” regular open-communication, affection, emotional security, emotional warmth, unconditional love, recognize the positive, respect the child’s developmental stage, rewards accomplishments, sets boundaries, shows empathy for the child’s feelings, and supports the child’s best interests. (positivepsychology.com)
Why Is Positive Parenting Important?
A positive parenting approach allows responsiveness to a child’s needs and focuses on teaching good behavior. Parents use a loving but firm approach to child rearing so that children grow to be happy, healthy, and thriving adults.
Parents who are equipped with the knowledge and know-how in raising children especially when problems occur are more confident and effective in parenting. This style encourages parents (or caregivers) to look at the big picture, focus on the reason behind misbehavior and then address the cause. Thus, parents who embrace the positive parenting approach live happier, and less stressful lives.
There is also a host of evidence linking the parenting style to favorable youth outcomes. Positive parenting promotes a child’s self-esteem, teaches emotion regulation, and provides a child the right tools to have good decision-making skills in life. This affirmative effect on a their development empowers them to reach their full potential as resilient and fulfilled individuals.
With a positive parenting approach, mutual respect is in place between the parent and child to effectively foster the practical teaching and monitoring of good behavior versus being punitive about misbehavior. This is in contrast to the traditional form of parenting which has been criticized for being harsh on the child, restricting, and without room for growth.
Knowing what positive parenting is and how effective it can be, how can we start our practice?
1. Before anything else, equip yourself with the knowledge and know-how
Read up! Many proven scientific data support the relationship between positive parenting approaches and a large variety of pro-social parent and child outcomes. Practitioners have developed and implemented a range of programs aimed at promoting positive parenting practices.
When you have armed yourself with the knowledge and know-how, it’s time to put it into practice. Remember to be realistic with your action plan for tackling problems at home. Parenting is stressful enough as it is. Focus on issues that you can manage. As I have said before, tantrums are normal and can happen in an instant.
2. Carve out time daily to connect with your child
A positive parenting style encourages parents (or caregivers) to be responsive to a child’s needs. Children seek attention and crave emotional connections. When a child’s emotional tank is filled with happy thoughts and love, there will be a scant need to prevent misbehavior from happening. So ensure that your child/children receive lots of TLC – tender, loving care.
When kids feel a strong connection to their parents, they are more likely to behave in the right way and grow up to be confident, with good decision-making skills, resilient, and able to self-regulate. Building a strong connection with your child paves the way for a deeper and more meaningful relationship that you will both cherish.
3. Set “family rules” with clear explanation of natural consequences of good and bad behaviors.
In positive parenting, it is important to have limits and consequences. Set boundaries. Reinforce good behavior. More importantly, explain the natural consequences of misbehavior. Be firm in setting the boundaries while enforcing them warmly and lovingly.
Model good behavior. Drew Barrymore once quipped, “the best kind of parent you can be is to lead by example.” When practicing positive parenting, we do not use harsh punishment to correct misbehavior. Instead, endeavor to fulfill your child’s emotional needs through positive interactions (going back to step 2).
4. Give yourself some self-love and self-care.
To raise children to be happy and healthy, first, take care of ourselves as parents. Balance your time between your needs and your children’s needs. Give time for some self-care and self-love. Meditate and take mindful breaks to check in with yourself, center, and rejuvenate.
What skills do we need to practice and strive to be the best, supportive parents we can be?
Be warm, thoughtful, and loving but not permissive. Positive parenting is about engaging positively with our children so they learn what is expected rather than being told what “not” to do. Using positive interactions to correct problematic behavior should be your first move. Always remember to turn misbehavior into valuable lessons for your child.
When your child cannot wait to hit the water and skips putting on some sunscreen, explain the natural consequence to turn a poor choice into a learning opportunity. “When you skip putting on sunscreen and spend hours in the water under the sun, your skin’s going to get burned and you might feel sore for a few days.
When setting boundaries, be firm. Likewise, ensure that your child can do the task. Introduce the routine, and set limits and consequences ahead of time. This leaves the power to be in your child’s hands and allows him/her to decide to accomplish the task. In this process, they learn how to make the right decision.
“When you finish your homework then you can use your iPad” or “When you finish picking up the crumbs and sweeping the floor then you can go out and play”. When children understand that tasks need to get done they quickly learn responsibility. With consistency and practice, they can move through their daily routine on their own. There will be no need for constant reminders or even the occasional nagging.
Yelling, time-outs or nagging should come last if not none at all. Cut yourself some slack if you think a time-out is needed when an issue arises. Positive discipline instead of punitive minimizes coercion that is linked to behavioral issues such as defiance and revenge. Time outs should be properly enforced. Remind the child of the reason for the time out (citing the bad behavior as the reason) and that time out is the natural consequence of it. Remove your child from the environment and put it into a non-reinforcing place to calm down and feel safe. Afterward, hug your child and then talk about the issue.
At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of the parents. – Jane D. Hull
Positive parenting is an effective and scientifically proven style of raising happy, healthy, and thriving kids. Research and reflect on the tips and strategies we shared above to start your practice. I would love to hear from you if you brought any of these into your family life and how it worked out for you.