Top 7 Positive Parenting Tips
Top 7 Positive Parenting Tips
Positive parenting is about creating healthy relationships between parents and children and it involves different acts of parenting - caring, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently so as to enable a child to fully develop and flourish. The goal is for the child to not only "behave" but to develop strengths such as resilience, optimism, curiosity and self-confidence.
- Remember why positive parenting matters
Positive parenting is about creating healthy relationships between parents and children and nurturing their strengths. It involves many different acts of parenting - caring, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently so as to enable a child to fully develop and flourish. The goal is for the child to not only "behave" but to develop lifelong strengths such as resilience, optimism, curiosity and self-confidence. Positive parenting assumes each child is born good and the good news for parents is that it works and makes you feel happier too.
- You can create positive experiences
It helps to think of fresh, fun activities to enjoy together like board games, outdoor activities, new places to explore, but most importantly, you can create positive experiences simply by being present when you are with your child and honouring your commitment to spend time with them regularly. Delight in moments of connection and use them to reinforce the bond and trust between you so that even when you discipline your children, they will be more likely to listen, and when they need support, they will turn to you.
Express an interest in their life — and share yours with them, too! Parents forget that children have no idea what they do all day or unless you share with them. Set time aside each week to talk about your life and your passions.
- Be kind but set boundaries
Model for your child how to be kind and respectful to others. When a parent yells, dismisses, or shames a child, the child learns to do the same to others when they’re upset. Being kind is different from being permissive, though. You should set clear boundaries - whether it’s about bedtime, use of devices, or good manners - and explain why. For example, you can explain that using devices over dinner interrupts conversation. It’s important to lay out consequences but to enforce them in a calm and firm way. For instance, you can tell a child that she cannot have what she wants in a tone that is patient and your body language can convey empathy for their disappointment. Scolding conveys anger which undermines the respect we are trying to model, whereas over time, calm reinforcement of boundaries and encouragement to improve give children the security of consistency and builds the foundation for a healthy relationship.
- Follow through
Don’t make empty threats or promises you can’t keep.
If you don’t plan to actually cancel the playdate, don’t use it as a consequence. If you say that you will take them to the beach after they complete an assignment, don’t bail. This will motivate them to self-monitor their behaviour and inspire trust and the desire to meet expectations.
- Empathise with your child’s feelings
We can help children identify and name the emotions that trigger their behaviours, whether it is feeling confused, frustrated, anxious, envious or tired. This helps them (and us!) understand their own feelings and be more conscious of how they can regulate their emotions and actions. At our school, we have daily campfire sessions to nurture students’ emotional awareness and encourage them to empathise with others – the same can happen at home. It’s important to offer our kids the same empathy – whether it is by understanding that they too have negative emotions and need to express them or by resisting the instinct to immediately point out mistakes and offer your critique when they show you a piece of artwork or writing. Instead it helps to first praise them for their effort and show genuine appreciation for what they did well. This builds confidence, makes them more open to feedback, and allows them to feel the joy of having shared something with you. Empathy begets connection.
- Reflective Listening
One way of showing empathy and kindness is to practise reflective listening. This is a special type of communication that involves paying attention to both the meaning and the feelings of the other person and then acting like a mirror. You can first acknowledge non-verbally by nodding or looking them in the eye, and then ask clarifying questions or try to summarise the essence of what your child said using different words. For example, if your child says, “I don’t want to take the bus anymore.” Although you might be tempted to immediately disagree or find out why, you might simply repeat, “You don’t want to take the bus to school?” This prompts a child to say more. They might reveal their reasons naturally, for instance, “Yeah, I don’t like sitting with Pete.” To which you can follow with, “You don’t like sitting with your friend?” And by withholding judgement, you leave room for your child to express their emotions and tell you more. The key is to set aside our feelings and listen deeply, making your child feel heard. It’s a great way to resolve or even prevent conflict, earn trust, and get to know your child better.
- Keep learning
Parenting is really a journey and our views and perspectives evolve as we travel along. Our children’s needs and abilities also evolve, and as they get older, you will need to acquire new tools and mindsets. For example, boundaries can be reviewed and renegotiated and it is helpful to involve your child increasingly in finding solutions together. As we transition from being their provider and protector to more their mentor and confidante, we have to keep improving our communication skills, learn about what people their age enjoy and their priorities, and keep putting in the time to better ourselves. Learning can mean listening to podcasts and audiobooks on topics like emotional intelligence and neuroscience, or it can mean taking a walk and having a heart-to-heart conversation. It can also be researching a topic like climate change or black holes together with your child. Learning something new and solving problems together make you a team and show your child that learning doesn’t have to end. Ultimately, positive parenting is about growing up and getting better at life together with your child.