What is positive parenting?

Parenting is a balance between taking charge and being kind. Sometimes it can be tricky knowing when to take charge and when to be kind. Parents who always take charge without being kind can be perceived as mean by a child and his self-esteem suffers, he can become angry or withdrawn. Parents who are always kind and don’t take charge can be perceived as weak by a child and she may not develop a good sense of limits and boundaries.

After their survival needs are met (food, shelter, warmth) humans have a fundamental need to belong. Your children need to have a sense of belonging and connection with you – it keeps them healthy and whole, physically and emotionally. Positive parenting is about correcting a child’s behaviour but doing it in a way that doesn’t threaten the child’s connection with you and doesn’t threaten their need for belonging.

There is a saying that goes “If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Many parents don’t want to smack their kids or yell at them anymore, but they are not sure what else they can do. There are so many positive ways of communicating with your child, turning down the volume, and making connection with your child.

How do you stop the behaviour that you are not keen on? For example: hitting, arguing, fighting, persistent teasing.

How do you get kids doing the stuff you’d like them to? For example: eating, getting dressed, having a bath, going to bed, walking through the house.

Now I’m going to ask you to have a think…

When do your children misbehave the most? When are the most stressful times of the day?

Figured it out?

That’s right. When you want them to do something – eat dinner, have a bath, go to bed. They all of a sudden have your undivided attention and it’s time to play! Time to ‘play up’ that is – children often think that negative attention is better than none, especially when they don’t get credit for the times when they are doing well.

So, what’s the secret to getting children to do the things you want them to do?

Yelling? Screaming? Hitting? Begging? Arguing?

How do you feel when people do that to you?

Angry? Resentful? Defiant? Sad? Irritated?

The best way to get children, or anyone for that matter, to do things for you is to build your relationship with them. Then, it’s all about giving and receiving. Positive parenting is about building the relationship with your children so they want to do things to help you and themselves, and get on with the good stuff – connection and belonging. Positive parenting is changing the tone of the home to be more positive so it’s not so hard all of the time, changing the way you respond to your kids, and teaching yourself and your kids new skills and behaviours.

Of course, as children get older, they want to do more for themselves. For example, feed themselves (I do it myself!), go to sleepovers, ride their bike to the park all by themselves, and drive a car (now it’s getting scary). So as they get older, parents need to kindly and gently teach their children new skills and give them a little more age-appropriate freedom (autonomy), bit by bit. Australian psychologist, Phil Nunn, says that parenting is like having a rope around your waist – it’s about knowing when to let it out and when to reel it in.

Often parents will try something once and not get an immediate result and they will say “that was no good” – try it consistently for three weeks. Sometimes, parents will use a strategy a few times and the child’s behaviour may get worse. If you are doing the strategy correctly and consistently and you have the patience, I suggest that you give it a really good go for three weeks. Adapt it if you feel you need to. In parenting, there is NO one size fits all, but there are a few must-haves – unconditional love, care, and time.


Categories: Parenting Skills


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