Positive Parenting seems to be the latest parenting trend. And its popularity is well-earned!
As opposed to authoritative parenting, positive parenting focuses on enhancing the good behavior of your child while building a solid relationship. A relationship full of love, trust, and understanding.
And who doesn’t want that?
The thing is that, no matter how much we read, putting things to practice is a completely different thing. When it comes to parenting, there are days when we feel like we have everything under control and days in which we feel like the worst parents ever. That’s normal, it’s part of the journey.
Having long-term goals is helpful (you can see mine at end of the post) but putting positive parenting into practice isn’t that straightforward, but here are 10 ways to enhance your positive parenting game.
#1 Be Yourself
We all make mistakes. Embrace them. Be authentic with your children.
The times when parents needed to be an image of perfection are gone. Connect to your kids through authenticity, let them see your imperfections. After all, positive parenting starts with us parents!
The truer to yourself you are, the best example you’ll set for them. They will understand that life can be challenging sometimes and that the best we can do when facing those challenges should be good enough. You’ll be happier and your children will be happier.
More on the line of being authentic. Apologize to your children when you make mistakes, and apologize to others in front of your children.
Set the example.
Let them see that we all make mistakes and that we need to take action for those mistakes we make.
Make sure you always tell them what you are apologizing for, and what the expected behavior should have been. So, instead of a plain “I’m sorry”, try saying: “Screaming is not the right way of controlling my emotions. I should remain calm, I’m sorry.”
#3 Make More Eye Contact
Have you talked to someone while they’re texting?
Even though they are listening to you, it’s normal to feel somewhat isolated. As if they weren’t paying attention.
And attention is a biggie for children.
Making eye contact means forgetting about the rest of the world for one moment and giving your child your wholehearted attention. And they can feel that, no matter their age.
They will feel empowered to share more, and it also helps their self-esteem. Eye contact goes a long way!
#4 Find Other Ways to Say “No”
Can you think of other ways to say “no” than by saying no?
Try to turn the situation around, if your child wants ice cream before lunch, trying saying something like:
“You can get ice cream on Saturday, we’ll go to a special place and make a day out of it!”
If your child wants to watch TV, and you won’t allow it, try saying something like:
“What’s the second thing you want to do the most? Maybe we can do that instead.”
Keep your “no’s” for situations that could be harmful to your kid. For example, we use our “no’s” when our curious toddler wants to explore electric sockets.
#5 Keep Your Cool
Back in the 90’s, when I was a teen, I read an amazing book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey. It had a few cool things to say about keeping your cool.
In his book, Covey states that we can either be a bottle of soda or a bottle of water.
A bottle of soda will explode if you shake it, and a bottle of water will remain calm. In order to become a bottle of water, he suggests finding your Pause button (somewhere in the middle of your forehead). And just PRESS PAUSE.
It’s silly, but this little trick has helped me most of the time. I take a deep breath, and I just press pause. Yup, to this day I put my finger to the middle of my forehead and press my imaginary pause button. It can seem silly… But. It. Works!
By remaining calm you can let your child know, by example, how to handle her emotions. You can assess the situation better, you can motivate your child to understand if she’s being unreasonable, and you’ll get rid of that guilty feeling after a fight.
Of course, this doesn’t always work. All of us lose it sometimes. And that’s part of the first point: being human.
#6 Hold Your Kids
Hugging someone you love releases endorphins. And this hormone will soothe you and your child, will improve your heartbeat and blood pressure, calm your breathing, relax your muscles… You’ll both be happy. And happiness is at the very core of positive parenting.
Hug your kids as much as you possibly can. Hug them when they wake up and when they fall asleep. When you leave them for school and when you pick them up. After breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Make a habit out of it, and see your relationship deepen and become stronger.
#7 Set a Positive Example
One of the first things a newborn does is look at her mother. If you have a baby at home, you’ll notice how much they watch you.
And as they grow older, that doesn’t change. Children learn by example. They are going to imitate what you do and even incorporate your behaviors and values into their core values.
Isn’t that flattering, and scary? And a huge responsibility?
If you had say, a stressful situation at work, and you sit all day complaining about it. That’s what your child will learn: When you are stressed, complain. Or if a parent gets easily out of control, that’s what the child will learn: to let her emotions explode.
Think about how much you are like your parent. Really think, deep down. You may be saying “I’m nothing like my dad.” But then you behave with the same core values in the key moments in your life. Of course, you may also be the exception to the rule, too.
The thing is, children not only soak the bad stuff but they soak the good stuff too! So give them good stuff to soak!
If you project positivism, have clear goals for your child, remain calm at most times, and are consistent with a healthier, calmer way of living, your child will absorb all of that.
#8 Make Time for your Children
Put your phone away, lock your troubles in another room, and sit on the floor playing with your child.
Just you (and your spouse if possible) and your child. And give her a daily amount of time. Whatever time you can manage.
Be there, be present, and let her know that you are there to play with them. If it’s not possible for you to do it on weekdays, then schedule some time during weekends. If you can manage even 5 minutes on weekdays though, it’ll make a great difference.
#9 Describe your Children in a Positive Ways Always
If a parent describes their children in negative ways, that parent is reinforcing that negative behavior.
Let’s say that your child has a hard time keeping his room organized. And your mom calls you, and, with your child within earshot, you have the following conversation:
“… I am so busy today, and on top of that, Tommy’s room is a mess, as always. I wonder where did he get that messiness from? Both my husband and I are tidy, and so is his big sister.”
Can you spot the mistakes?
Even if your child isn’t within earshot, you shouldn’t highlight his flaws. And even worse, comparing them to someone else. There may be behaviors you need to correct, but how do we do it without highlighting the negative? Well, it’s not always perfect, but let’s try that conversation from a positive perspective.
“… I am so surprised! Tommy’s room is messy, and I know he can be super organized when he wants to. I wonder what’s up with him today… Maybe among his creative play, he just forgot to clean his room. I’ll remind him to clean it!”
See the difference? This conversation has the same objective: Getting Tommy to clean his room. But the first one is highlighting his flaw, and thus dooming him to the “It’s just how he is” statement, while the second one is highly motivational.
#10 Reinforce Positive Behaviors
One time we went to the mall and Oliver had a terrible tantrum. I remember dealing with it and soon going home, embarrassed and feeling like a failure.
What I can’t remember, though, all the good things he did that day because I wasn’t keepìng count of them.
I now focus much more on all the positive things my son does. You’ll be surprised at just how many positive behaviors your child has in one day.
If you can catch a positive behavior on the spot, and reinforce it by congratulating your child and telling them how proud you are, you’ll start seeing a great deal of improvement in their discipline.
This goes hand in hand with describing your child in positive ways, and it’s a much more effective way to discipline your child than to punish the bad behavior.
Skipped to the End?
No worries, here’s a video summary:
That’s a Wrap
Positive parenting takes a lot of self-control. One of the keys is to set your long-term goals and stick to them. Picture what you want your child to be in the future and work towards that goal.
Our goals for Ollie are for him to be:
- Contributing positively to society
And we are trying to work to that end! Of course, we mess up a lot. As all parents do. That’s why we need to be authentic and true to ourselves.
Are you positive parenting your child? What are your tips and tricks? Let us know in the comment section.