Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in life. However, it can also be one of the most challenging. Because children do not come with instructions, it is up to parents to learn the parenting style that works best for them.
There are several parenting methods that help children develop into successful, happy adults. However, others can leave children feeling anxious with low self-esteem. That’s why we suggest the positive parenting method. It helps children become capable and resilient while bonding them to their caregiver. Although some people consider this a “fluffy” way to parent—it is not. Rather, it is effective in holding children accountable for their actions in age-appropriate ways. This system uses clear expectations and rewards to empower children to make responsible decisions.
In this article, we will detail what positive parenting is and how it benefits children. We’ll also provide positive parenting tips.
What is Positive Parenting
The movement for positive parenting began in the 1900s. Previously, it was believed that children should be “seen but not heard.” However, psychotherapist Alfred Adler declared that children should be treated with dignity and respect. He also declared that children should not be spoiled. Otherwise, they would be riddled with self-entitlement and would be devoid of empathy. Furthermore, Adler asserted that children need connections to adults and an emotionally safe environment to thrive. These ideas helped form the positive parenting method.
This style of parenting focuses on several ideas. Some of the most important include:
- Parenting children in age-appropriate ways
- Being sensitive to children’s needs, temperament, and developmental stage (Parenting for Brain)
- Nurturing children emotionally
- Having clear boundaries and limits
- Building connections with children
- Understanding that misbehaviors are underlying symptoms of problems. They are simply a cry for help. Once underlying symptoms are identified and dealt with, problem behaviors will cease (Positive Parenting Solutions)
- The idea that a misbehaving child is not bad, mean, uncontrollable, or defiant
- Having empathy for children and showing consistent love and warmth
- Focusing on the children’s best interests
- Rewarding good behavior and accomplishments
- Having clear communication between parents and children (Positive Psychology)
- Building children’s self-esteem and independence
Benefits of Positive Parenting
Research strongly supports positive parenting. In a 7 year-long study in 1997, researchers studied this method. Researchers examined supportive parenting (positive parenting) and contrasted it with less supportive parenting styles. The supportive style was defined as parent and child warmth, proactive teaching, positive involvement, and inductive discipline. Less supportive styles were harsher and had colder interactions between parent and child.
The study showed that the positive parenting style increased school performance and led to fewer behavioral problems. Furthermore, this type of parenting actually mitigated the impact of trauma and child stress (Positive Parenting). Supportive parenting was also able to overcome adversities such as single parenting, divorce, poverty, and more.
Similarly, a study on emotional coaching by Bath Spa University discovered positive outcomes for families trained by emotional coaches. Parents reported an average of 79% improvement in children’s behaviors. (Positive Parenting).
Additional research has shown that positive parenting improves social-emotional development. In fact, children increase their emotional, physical, and behavioral health. At the same time, problem behaviors, such as aggression and hyperactivity, are reduced. These benefits are shown as early as 1.5-3 years of age. Benefits last a lifetime as children have a better chance of academic success. (NCT).
The research overwhelmingly shows that positive parenting works.
Positive Parenting Tips
Here are some positive parenting tips that will enhance your relationship with your child and encourage their success.
- Teach children to self-regulate when upset. For example, if they receive a bad grade on a test, empathize with them. Say things like, “I can imagine that must be very frustrating. You must feel upset.” Hugs are appropriate if the child wants one. Respect their bodily autonomy if they do not. Also, do not try to fix the situation for them by calling their teacher. Instead, encourage your child to brainstorm ways to help themselves.
- Model behavior that you wish to see. When frustrated, count to 10 out loud, or take a 5-minute break. If children disrupt your self-regulation time, respond calmly. Tell them, “Mommy is taking a 5-minute break to calm down. I will help you when I am done.” (Colorado Parent)
- Catch children behaving well. Too often we focus on what our children are doing wrong. Instead, watch for opportunities when children are doing what they are supposed to do. Then reward them with verbal praise, a sticker on a reward chart, or other methods. For example, if a child is playing nicely with their sibling, be sure to use specific praise. Say, “I love the way you are sharing when playing together. That’s exactly what I like to see!” (NCT)
- Don’t just say “no” to their requests. If they ask to go to the park but it’s impossible to go, then use other words. For example, say “I’d love to take you now but I have to work. I can take you tomorrow instead.”
- Use distraction tactics. Distraction tactics are an excellent behavior management tool in positive parenting. They help prevent meltdowns or negative behaviors. For example, if a child is getting ready to knock over another child’s toy building, use this technique. Give the child alternative things to do, such as a different activity. Also, it could be a signal that they have energy to burn. Taking them to the park is a better option than allowing the events to unfold and then punishing them later. (NCT)
- Take care of yourself as a parent. Parenting is a difficult job, and it’s important for caregivers to use self-care methods. This helps ensure parents are the best version of themselves for their children. A hot bath, spending time in nature, taking time out with friends, and other strategies are important for self-care.
The goal of parenting is to offer children ways to develop into healthier, independent, and successful adults. These positive parenting tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positive parenting successfully.
Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs for parents, schools, and businesses.
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Colorado Parent, NCT, Parenting for Brain, Positive Parenting Solutions, Positive Psychology