Four handy tools for positive parenting

This month, I have been talking a lot about some of the most basic parenting tools for your toolkit which are also highly effective.

Tool number 1

Remind your children of ‘what to do’ rather than ‘what not to do’.

Instead of saying “don’t run”, say “walk”.

Instead of saying “don’t hit”, say “hands to self”.

When you use the negative, ie, “run”, “hit”, children don’t hear the “don’t”, they just hear “run” and “hit”.

Tool number 2

Descriptive praise is very powerful.

Saying ‘good boy/girl’ makes your kids praise junkies. They love it, but they never quite understand what they’ve done well. Descriptive praise tells children what they are doing well.

Examples, “thanks for picking up your socks, and putting them in the wash basket, that helps me out heaps”, “I really like how you kept going on that task until you got it just the way you wanted it”, You thought  really carefully about that before you did it, I admire that”.

Tool number 3

The more attention you pay to children’s behaviours, the more of them they will do.

This is based on 40 years of research, it’s not earth mother or hippie-la-la stuff. So, if you pay a lot of attention to your child’s negative behaviours, what do you think will happen? Yes, they will do more of them. Think about it – you would hate being reminded of all of the times you stuff up – doesn’t make you feel good about yourself does it?

Choose one of your child’s behaviours that drives you bonkers. Got it? OK, now think of the opposite behaviour. Now start paying more attention to the opposite behaviour (the positive one) with descriptive praise.

An example, if your child speaks too loudly, then instead of rousing on him for being too loud, give him descriptive praise every time he speaks quietly.

Tool number 4

If you call your child ‘naughty’ often enough, he or she will prove you right. And that goes for any other negative name that you call your child – clumsy,  hopeless, lazy, etc.

Words are powerful, especially when they are coming from you. Children internalise the negatives we say to them or call them. Say them often enough, and you are digging a pit of shame for your child so deep and so wide, it will take them a lifetime to crawl out of it. Shaming a child causes mental health problems later in life.

Super Nanny did parenting a great disservice. Get rid of that ‘naughty’ corner/chair/mat. Do it right now!!! Call it a ‘calm down zone’ or  ‘chill-out chair’. Be creative but make it positive.

Remove ‘naughty’ and ‘bad’ from your vocabulary.

And now for your challenge …

Put these 4 tools into action at your place, and see how things change for the better.


Narelle Smith




Categories: Encouraging Desirable Behaviour, Parenting Skills


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