There are so many parenting terms being coined these days, but positive parenting is an approach proven to work. It’s also easy to adopt and benefits the whole family.
What is positive parenting?
In short, positive parenting means focussing on your child’s strengths rather than their weaknesses, or what they do wrong. A simple way of putting this is praising your child more often than you tell them off.
However, there’s more to positive parenting than extra praise.
How does positive parenting help?
The idea of positive parenting was created by psychologist Alfred Adler, who believed that when offered a rpositive environment, children behaved better.
As parents we often correct children on their behaviour or point out what is wrong in a bid to set them on the right path. However, praise is incredibly effective as a parenting tool, and often overlooked.
So, instead of taking a negativity-based approach to parenting our children, if we focus on recognising and encouraging good behaviour instead, we can create a better outcome.
Firstly, aim to recognise what your child does well.
It might be politeness, playing nicely, being gentle with a younger sibling, or sitting nicely at dinner. Even if they didn’t eat enough, if your child behaved well during their meal then be sure to praise them. You can apply this idea many times throughout the day. Often as parents we are hardwired to notice poor behaviour over good behaviour. However, research shows that children respond to praise and will want to receive it.
Try to understand where they are coming from.
It can be tricky to see the world through a child’s eyes, but sometimes outbursts and undesirable behaviour are about being upset, hungry or tired. Remember that their brains are still developing and they are still learning social behaviours, so aim to be sympathetic to their feelings.
Don’t ignore poor behaviour, but do try to listen to their point of view.
Positive parenting isn’t about excusing mistakes or bad choices that kids make. Instead, it’s about trying to understand and be positive. So, if your child has thrown their toys across the room because they didn’t get a biscuit, hear them out on why they behaved that way. You could then explain how this behaviour makes the situation worse rather than better, and look to find alternative solutions with them for the future.
1-1 time with your child is important.
We all need 10 minutes here and there to scroll through something on our phone for a breather, but make sure your child knows that there are times when they have your whole attention. You might have a time each day where you read books together, or an hour doing an activity with no distractions. Whatever your child would enjoy, make sure they have your full attention sometimes, for quality time together.
If you’re feeling stressed then aim to build in short breaks and lean on support.
If you have a friend that you can meet and chat while your kids play together, or a family member who can take your child out for an hour, a break benefits both of you. Remember to put your own oxygen mask on as well as your child’s!
How does positive parenting benefit the family?
Rather than being psychobabble, positive parenting has been shown to reduce disruptive behaviour in children. It can also boost their ability to cope with difficulties in life. Children who have experienced positive parenting also perform better in education- perhaps because of the focus on overcoming difficulties. Growing up with a positive approach to life also improves their confidence.
It’s impossible to be a positive parent all the time, and none of us are perfect. However, by aiming to steer children in the direction of problem solving and wishing to receive praise, both parents and children can reap the benefits.