Our job as parents is to help our children explore the world around them. It’s to give them love, affection, and guidance as they learn to engage in life. It’s to build their confidence and self esteem. And positive parenting does all of those things. That’s why it’s the parenting style recommended by child development experts.
Below are 7 principles of positive parenting. These principles will help guide you through those tough times of parenting and allow you to feel confident that you are doing what is best for your child.
- Misbehavior equals communication. Misbehavior is our children communicating an unmet need. When we take away the misbehavior without redirecting it in a positive direction/meeting the unmet need, it will resurface in another form of misbehavior. But when we fill our child’s need (the need for connection, power, to feel valuable, etc.) in a positive way, our children’s need to misbehave will go down and they will be less likely to misbehave.
- Relationship is key. “In the final analysis, it is the relationship you have with your child more than good techniques, that will get you smoothly through the day.” (by: Louise Bates Ames). When you build a strong relationship and connection with your child, they are more willing to cooperate with you because you come from a place of closeness and connectedness.
- Don’t punish your child for their feelings. When you are sad, mad or upset do you want someone getting upset with you for feeling that way? I didn’t think so. Your child feels the same way! It’s ok to have feelings and it’s perfectly healthy to express those feelings. You can hold firm to your limits and boundaries while still allowing your child to express their feelings. Remember, allowing the feeling to be expressed doesn’t mean you are allowing the behavior.
- Empathize with your child. Empathize with your child to help them feel heard, understood, and accepted. Sometimes that looks like talking with them about their feelings and other times it looks like being a calm presence and holding space while they express themselves. When a child feels listened to, they listen better to you and your limits and boundaries.
- Discipline to improve future behavior instead of punishing for past behavior. Instead of focusing on the mistake made (punishing for the past behavior), focus on discipling in a way that teaches your child how to improve/change their future behavior. Discipline isn’t about giving our child a penalty for a wrong done, it’s about teaching and guiding our children through knowledge and learning and practice in order to have success in the future. In my parenting course, Family Elements, I teach 6 ways to effectively discipline children that will get your the results you want.
- Look for and acknowledge the good. When we focus on the bad, all we see is bad, and we reinforce the bad. But when we look for the good and acknowledge the good, we reinforce the good and begin to see more and more good. So the next time your child slams the door as they walk to their room to clean it up as you asked, instead of saying “Don’t slam your door young man!”, say “Thank you for cleaning up your room”. Or if your child does a chore but maybe misses a spot, acknowledge and encourage the fact that they did the chore. They will feel good about themselves and will be more willing to do chores in the future and their cleaning skills will improve. Focus on the good and the good will get better.
- When children feel good, they do good. When your kids feel good and secure in the place they have in your life and in the world, they can continue to do good. They feel capable and are more likely to try new things, accept new challenges, cooperate with other, etc., and all of that raises their self-esteem even more.
The main principles of positive parenting will help foster your child’s sense of security in their place in the world. Kids will still be kids and won’t have perfect behavior all the time, but positive parenting is a great way to handle parenting and creating a happy life for both you and your child.