The term “Positive Parenting” has such a lovely ring; however, translating these simple words into practice is not always easy. Most caregivers have received advice or read their fair share of books on various parenting techniques covering topics from sleep to behavior and everything in between. But on a daily basis, it comes down to more of an art than a science as there is seldom one system or approach that produces fool-proof results. Here are some general themes to keep in mind as you navigate the parenting world while trying to put your most positive foot forward.
1. Don’t Overdo It. This common motto applies to most aspects of life, including parenting. Sometimes becoming too focused on specific behaviors, goals, approaches, or expectations can lead to undue stress and frustration, for both you and your child. If you are at a loss, choose one thing to focus on and move forward with reasonable expectations. This will set both you and your child up for success rather than overwhelm you with unrealistic demands.
2. Praise Mindfully. It is important to balance other parenting strategies, including use of praise. Researchers have found that children who are frequently praised for the outcome of their efforts (“We are so proud that you got an A!”) or for personal characteristics (“You are so smart”) actually give up more easily. In contrast, children who receive praise for their effort (“I am proud of how hard you worked”) and the approach they take (“I like the way you thought of that answer”) tend to press on in the face of a challenge. Simple changes in your language can go a long way in fostering your child’s ability to persevere and tolerate frustration.
3. Have Fun. There is nothing positive about a joyless household, and childhood is supposed to be a time of fun-loving wonder and excitement. While there are also countless responsibilities, rules, and boundaries that must be tended to, be sure to schedule time for laughter, physical activity, and shared enjoyment. These moments will hopefully spill over into daily life when demands are more intense and children (and parents) need relief from stress and monotony.
4. Communicate. At least once a day take 5 minutes to have a real conversation with each child. Here, “real” refers to a discussion without expectations, judgments, or any agenda. This opportunity to genuinely connect will make it easier to take your child’s experiences and needs into consideration, and will guide your parenting approach.
Again, positive parenting is an excellent concept to aspire to, but it is a perpetual work in progress. In addition, it should not be a source stress in a world that already provides penalty of pressure. Hopefully these tips will help you approach each day with a bit more direction as you strive to keep things moving in a positive direction.
Sharing practical strategies that help parents rediscover joy in their children (even when someone's crying, the phone is ringing, and it smells like the house may be burning down)