We keep hearing all about “positive parenting”, but what the heck does it mean? Of course I want to be a positive parent, have a positive impact on my kids’ lives, and feel positive I’m “doing it right”…but how do I do it?
Everywhere we look, there are terms like attachment parenting, positive parenting, love & logic parenting, conscious discipline and all of these have something in common- they encourage parenting from a standpoint of love and connection. This builds relationships and trust- which encourages children to ‘behave’. Parenting from love and connection strengthens the parent-child relationship.
When I was working with Trauma Smart, my boss had this quote about discipline up on the wall and it always struck me. It basically stated that if a child does not know how to read, we teach them to read. If a child does not know how to tie their shoe, we teach them to tie their shoe. Why is it when a child does not know how to behave, we punish them? Discipline should be in the same category as teaching a child a new skill. We have to teach them the correct behaviors, not punish the wrong ones.
This is the basic premise of all different types of positive parenting styles. Parents are the teachers, and our job is to model and teach correct behaviors. Many different theorists have boiled down children’s misbehavior to three possible explanations:
- They do not know the expectation
- They know the expectation, but cannot control themselves
- They know the expectation, but do not care
With the first two categories, it is obvious that some teaching needs to happen. If a child does not know the expectation or rule, the parent or caregiver needs to re-teach/model the rule. If a child runs in the street, you must teach or re-teach them why it is unsafe to do so. We teach children that a turned on stove is hot, we teach children to clean up their toys after they are through playing with them. Same concept for behaviors. If we never teach them the rules, or even establish an expectation of how to behave in a store/restaurant/at home, we cannot punish them for following a rule they knew nothing about.
If the child knows the expectation, but cannot control themselves then there has to be some sort of outside motivator to teach them to control themselves. An example of this is if a child does not want to do their homework, but they know their grade will slip or their will be disappointment from the teacher or parent. They eventually learn to control the impulse to not do their homework, and do it anyway. In very young children, impulse control is one of the hardest characteristics to master. This takes modeling by the parent and a lot of patience from the parent to help teach young children how to control their impulses.
If the child knows the expectation, can control themselves, but does not care- this is where a stronger relationship is needed. And this falls on the parent or caregiver. It is up to us as the adult to repair and strengthen the relationship we have with the child. If a child does not care, this shows their is no respect for the other person. There needs to be a strong relational bond, mutual respect and unconditional love shown from the adult/caregiver towards the child.
Wowser…if that isn’t a smack in the face, right?!? My child is misbehaving because I do not have a strong enough relationship with him or her. I do not show the wanted behavior myself. I do not set him or her up for success because I never tell them the expectation. If it were only this easy…ha.
I started rethinking about how I interact with my children. Going through so many moves and transitions, along with adding new babies has taken it’s toll on me and my ability to be a better parent. I struggle to “keep my cool” often with my children. I feel like life pulls me in so many different directions, and it is hard to sit down and be present in the moment. I have made this a goal of mine, to stop and be present. To live with intention. To become a better version of myself. I, along with a handful of others, are tuning in to weekly discussions on my Facebook page to chat about our struggles, learn more about what it means to become a more positive parent and to learn from each other. I have found that since starting this group and diving back in to my “social work self”, I feel like a better person. I am more calm. I play with my kids more. I feel like I am enjoying life more. It is amazing what setting intentional goals each day can do.
I want to invite you to join us! It is a super relaxed group where we all give each other ideas on what to do with our children. I share my knowledge from past parent training and relationship building activities you can easily replicate. Others share information from their own training they are doing, and activities they do with their children to strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Here is a video from the group that further discusses what is positive parenting. If you have 45 minutes to spare (haha) grab some popcorn and sit back and enjoy. I would love to hear what you think!
Enjoy your weekend with your family and talk to you soon!
*Disclaimer: Please do not substitue material on this site for clinical consultation with a mental health professional. The content of this blog is posted for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a specific treatment recommendation or personal communications with any individual.
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