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Raising children is tough. No doubt about it. As a parent, it can be tricky to find ways to use positive parenting, while staying positive yourself!
Teaching our kids responsibility, while keeping them motivated at the same time, isn’t always an easy task. These seven positive parenting tips will help you stay on track while raising your kids to become all you want them to be.
What is positive parenting?
A generally accepted definition of positive parenting across much research into the topic is this:
Positive parenting is the continual relationship of a parent and a child or children that includes caring, teaching, leading, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently and unconditionally.Seat et al
I’m sure you’ll agree that this nurturing and empowering environment is something that’s worth aspiring to create for our children.
But what does that mean for everyday life? Here are some simple and practical ways to try and incorporate into our day-to-day parenting.
Having boundaries in your relationship with your kids is a necessary 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.
Life can easily get frustrating – for both kids and parents – when clear boundaries and expectations are not conveyed in a way that everyone understands.
One simple idea is to write expectations on a white board. This can help ensure everyone is always on the same page.
For younger kids, you can even draw pictures and create chore charts so they have a fun way to participate in the household duties each day without stressing out too much.
Another thing to remember when focusing on positive parenting 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 11 years old, don’t act like a baby!” you can tell them how and why their behavior is immature or inappropriate.
Shaming children doesn’t help them to understand why their behaviour is unacceptable. It can lead to future insecurities or can even cause their negative behaviours to increase.
It’s always important to be clear while explaining and education your kids – no matter their age – instead of shaming them for something they may not understand.
It means being patient, as you may have to repeatedly tell them why something isn’t appropriate. Shaming is never the answer.
Get to the root of the behaviour
There’s always a reason that a child misbehaves and focusing on the underlying reason behind the behaviour can help to address and change it. It’s important to ask questions and talk to them one on one while listening to what they’re saying and trying to understand their behavior.
Instead of focusing on the behavior in the moment, try to connect with them; find the root of the problem. There’s usually a lot more to the negative behavior than the behavior itself. You may need to dig deep to find the root cause. That doesn’t mean being pushy. Your child will talk when they are ready. If they’re shy about opening up to you, you could try using a journal so you can write notes back and forth. It’s sometimes easier for kids to write what they’re thinking and feeling than to say it out loud – especially to parents, and especially if the parents are part of their problems.
Use rewards, not punishments
Offering a reward system may help your child have a reason to behave well.
Whilst you can use whatever you feel would work best for you, sometimes using toys or objects, can seem more like bribes. Try not to use food/sweets as rewards too.
Extra quality time or positive reinforcement can be great ways to reward for good behaviour. If your child has positive behaviour for a few days then you can suggest playing a board game or bake something with them, for example. Sometimes you’ll need to do this more often. Each child is different and their needs (as well as your time and energy availability) should be considered.
Punishing a child is not as effective as using rewards or praise. Focusing on rewards instead of punishments will help your child’s behavior in the long run. It’s critical to reward positive behavior rather than punishing negative behavior.
It isn’t wrong to praise kids for staying on track, even if that’s what is required, it’s crucial that they know what they’re doing is good and you are proud of them.
Model expected behaviour
A significant aspect of positive parenting is to model what you expect. In other words, lead by example. It’s vital to parent by example. Children tend to copy their parents. Teaching them manners and respectful behavior is essential, of course, 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 as helpful to just teach, they need to be shown what respectful behavior is on a daily basis.
Another way to lead by example is to apologize to your children when you’re wrong. This is a big one most of us miss out on, but it’s actually a really good learning opportunity for our kids to see us apologising when we make mistakes.
Always follow through
Following through is another cornerstone of positive parenting. Threatening consequences over and over again without following through on them will show your child that what they do isn’t bad and that they will not get in trouble for it, even if you get upset over it.
This doesn’t mean you should punish your child for everything they do; it means you shouldn’t set up a consequence if you’re not going to follow through on it. Showing your child that they can’t always get out of consequences for negative behavior is vital.
This isn’t only important for consequences, it also goes for actions and rewards. For example, if you tell your child that if they get good grades then they will get ice cream, then you don’t follow through on your side of the reward, that will show them that their grades are not meaningful to you, and that you’re not as proud of them. Don’t make promises that you cannot keep because it can cause your child to not trust you.
Try not to shout
One of the most essential parts to positive parenting is to stop shouting. There is never a need for yelling at your child, unless they are running out into traffic or trying to touch a hot stove (dangerous situations). In most situations, there are many other ways to get through to your children instead of raising your voice. You don’t like getting yelled at, so why would you yell at your child?
I know, this can be easier said than done! Many parents get upset and yell all too often. But it’s worth the effort to stop, as yelling tends to only escalates the situation and make it worse.
Not to mention, yelling at your child will teach them that it’s okay to yell back. When a parent raises their voice or says mean things when they’re upset it teaches the child to do the same when they’re upset themselves. Shouting conveys anger, a stern tone communicates authority.
Even if you are a big yeller, it is possible to learn how to stop yelling when you get frustrated with your kids.
Taking the time to incorporate some of these practical positive parenting ideas into your everyday moments with your kids can help create and enhance a positive and nurturing environment in which kids can thrive and your relationship with them only get stronger.