Parenting is very rewarding. The relationship you have with your child has a strong influence on their development.

Five Principles of Positive Parenting

No one likes nagging, yelling or punishing, neither the children who are on the receiving end nor the parents who feel they have to do it. Here are five basic principles you can use to help remain positive in your parenting while encouraging positive behaviour in your children.

1. Be Kind but Firm

It is important to always treat your children with kindness. This is accomplished by making sure you preserve their dignity and show them respect, such as not embarrassing them or making them feel bad. At the same time you do need to enforce house rules by being firm which means using appropriate parenting techniques with confidence, not force.

2. Less is More

Asking your child over and over to do something is not likely going to result in a different outcome. Instead, keep your message short – ten words or less, and if necessary don’t ask again simply get up, and without words, gently direct your child to what you have asked them to do by taking their hand or guiding them by the shoulders.

When your child has a problem, such as having a bike stolen, the Less is More principle also comes in handy. Typically parents spend far too much time telling their children what happened, what caused it to happen, how they should feel about it and what to do to fix it. However, by talking less your children they will know you are there to listen and they will have the opportunity to work through some of their problems on their own.

3. Choices and Consequences

Parenting books are always talking about the importance of giving choices. To ensure these choices work for you and your child you should limit it to two, make sure they are appropriate to both the child’s age and the situation and only give choices that you can live with no matter which one they decide to take. Once children are allowed to make choices they are ready to accept the consequences that come from making not so great choices.

Two of the best types of consequences are natural and logical.

Natural consequences are simple and effective such as getting cold wet feet if you go out in the snow without your boots. In order for it to work, however, you need to resist from either rescuing or punishing your child.

Logical consequences are just that – the discipline fits the crime. For example, a teenager might not be allowed to borrow the car for a week if he or she brings it home late.

And remember, whenever disciplining your child they should be learning something that will help them in the future not just paying for something they did in the past.

4. Positive Time-Out

Time-outs have become the catch all method of dealing with unwanted behaviour. To add a positive slant to it, think of a time-out as a short break from the situation, where the child has the opportunity to cool down, feel better and then to try again when they are ready to change their behaviour. For example, allow your child to go to their room and curl up with a favourite stuffed animal or sit quietly with a book. You will not only be teaching them that they cannot be around their family if their behaviour in inappropriate but you will be giving them the tools to calm themselves down when they feel they are getting out of control.

5. Use Your Sense of Humour

When children are little it is easy to see everything as cute and funny. Try taking an “Aren’t they cute!” approach to parenting, for things that are not harmful or do not break a house rule, to help you put the little things in perspective. A significant portion of children’s behaviour is appropriate to their age.

Just think about how many teenagers have messy rooms. It is almost like a right of passage. Wouldn’t it take the pressure off if you could open the door to their room and just say “Ah isn’t that cute!”.

Some final thoughts to keep things positive are:

  • make sure to spend special time with your children
  • ensure the message of love gets through in everything you do
  • mistakes are opportunities to learn life skills that will stay with your children even when you’re not around.

Written by Joanna Grogan, Coordinator, Perth-Middlesex EarlyON

Related Links