I'm excited to present to you today: my very best tips for positive parenting. I wish I had discovered this miracle of a parenting method a decade ago, but I'm glad I discovered it at all. It took a lot of reflection and change on my part, which I really wasn't ready for. Yet, here we are! We made it. So what is positive parenting and why does it work so well?
Positive Parenting Solutions
Positive discipline is about responding, not reacting to your child. Establishing firm but positive boundaries is how you get on the path to this wonderful parenting style.
A few key points to keep in mind when beginning your journey:
- Setting boundaries in a firm but kind way is part of the process.
- Avoid shaming, it does more harm than good.
- Get to the root of the negative behavior.
- Rather than assuming, communicate – and allow them to communicate as well.
- Focus on positive things instead of the negative: positive reinforcement.
- Parent by example; model what you expect from your children.
- Follow through: don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
- Stop yelling. Trust me, it's possible – and worth it!
Having boundaries with your children (no matter their age) is an important part of positive parenting. Present rules and boundaries in a positive way; avoid being harsh.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, upset, or angry, then that may be a sign that you need to set a new boundary. Provide boundaries and expectations in a clear way that your kid will be able to fully understand.
Positive parenting tips for healthy child development
At all ages, positive parenting is about fostering a healthy, cooperative relationship between you and your child. Even our discipline is positive. We are taught discipline methods from our parents and other adults, but are also taught in college and child development classes. But where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Positive parenting to the rescue, because that other way doesn't work!
We focus on empathy and building a respectful relationship with our children. Providing freedom within limits is the heart and soul behind the Montessori method. I've been asked, so I'll clarify: we do positive parenting with our ADHD + O.D.D. child. Yes, this can be extremely difficult at times, but we take life as it comes and we hope you can try to do that as well. It's made our lives much easier!
Positive parenting toddlers
Toddlers want to learn and explore. They aren't quite ready to be independent, but you can't convince them of that. This, combined with limited language capabilities, can create power struggles like no other.
Positive parenting strategies at this age are patience and positivity. Lots of times I have to just take a big, deep breath and say “will this matter in a year?” and if the answer is no, guess what? I keep breathing through it.
That doesn't mean I completely ignore negative behavior, especially if it's dangerous (like hitting someone or themselves), but it helps me keep things in perspective.
I've also realized that the more confidence my toddler has, the happier they are. What instills confidence more than independence?
Taking a cue from the Montessori method, we use child-sized furniture and developmentally-appropriate toys to encourage our toddler's independent thinking and exploring.
Remember: throwing tantrums, having meltdowns, and testing limits are all age and developmentally appropriate. That doesn't mean they get to kick the wall. It is your job to help them process through their emotions and guide them back to a more emotionally-regulated state, while displaying safe behaviors. The art of positive parenting is, well, an art. It's something we learn over time right alongside our children.
Another critical decision I made when my kids were toddlers was to stop using “NO” or “DON'T” commands. I learned this while training to become a Head Start teacher.
Head Start only allowed positive “DO” commands, which I had never even heard of. This was a thing? We, as teachers, can't tell kids “no”? What in the world? I was so confused!
Shortly after my training, when I got thrown into the classroom, I was pleasantly surprised to find out kids can and do listen without the word “no” in my vocabulary. What?!
Instead of saying “no running”, which surely creates a picture of running in their minds, we say “walking feet, please”. Instead of “no yelling”, we say “let's use our inside voices”. You're saying the same thing, but it's more effective because you've put a positive spin on it.
Children get confused easily when they hear “no running”. What if they only heard “running”? What if their brain processes things differently and they only grasped “running”? It is confusing! “Walking feet, please” is clear and concise, very easy to understand.
When toddlers (and children) are given choices, they're more likely to listen.
This means instead of saying “no, we can't go to the park today”, with positive parenting, we say “oh, the park sounds fun! Would you like to go tomorrow or Saturday?” – be sure you're okay with both options before offering them.
Positive discipline with children
Avoid shaming children of all ages, but the elementary years are especially important in this way. If you shame them, they learn that it's “okay” to shame others, and they can easily turn into bullies at school. We don't want that!
Treat your child with empathy, regardless of their behavior.
Let your child know their emotions are valid. Help them walk through regulating their emotions when they are upset. Be the parent that your child wants to talk to. I'm not saying you should be their friend, because you're still setting boundaries and you're the parent. But, don't be judgmental when your child does come to you.
That is a leading cause of children knowing not to come to you in the future.
Another important part to positive parenting is to model what you expect. Parent by example. Children tend to copy their parents.
Teaching them manners and respectful behavior is important but it can be pointless in the end if you don’t show them how to use their manners and how to behave respectfully.
Children learn by mimicking others, if you’re respectful towards them, they will be respectful towards others. It’s not helpful to just teach, they need to be shown what respectful behavior is.
Positive parenting teens
Another thing to remember is to avoid shaming. There are ways to let your child know that their behavior is inappropriate without shaming them.
Instead of saying “You’re 13 years old, don’t act like a baby!” you can tell them how and why their behavior is immature or inappropriate.
The problem with shaming your kid is that shaming doesn’t help them understand why their behavior is negative.
Shaming your teen can cause future insecurities or their negative behavior may increase. It’s important to be clear and educate them instead of shaming them for something they may not understand.
There’s always a reason that a child misbehaves, and focusing on the reason behind the behavior can help stop it. It’s important to ask questions and talk to them 1 on 1, trying to understand their behavior.
Instead of focusing on the behavior in the moment, try to connect with your child. Empathize and find the root of the problem. There's usually a lot more than the negative behavior than the behavior itself.
Are you ready to give it a go?
Have you tried positive parenting? Are you ready to give it a try? Let us know in the comments, after you PIN this post!