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10 ways to be a Positive Parent

We have a choice as a parents, whatever our circumstances and however challenging our children can sometimes be, to approach our parenting in a positive or negative way (recognising, of course, that we all sometimes have off-days, when it is difficult to feel at our most positive!)

Mountains of research and evidence shows that Positive Parenting results in better behaved children; happier children with better self-esteem; better achieving children; better parent-child relationships; happier, less stressed parents and far happier family life all-round.

Great! But how can you achieve positive parenting? Here are 10 key things we need to do as parents:

  1. Model positivity yourself. Be the very best role model you can be to your child, by what you say and what you do
  2. Establish positive values and rules in your family
  3. Always be ready to catch your children being good
  4. Give plenty of Effective Praise
  5. Reward your child – when reward has been appropriately earned
  6. Listen and talk to your child in a sensitive, thoughtful way. Take their views into account
  7.  Never smack or hit your child. Smacking is illegal and does not achieve positive outcomes, which positive parenting does!
  8. Adapt and tailor your approach to reflect your children’s personality, particular circumstances and the age of your child (see Positive Parenting at different ages)
  9. Keep things in perspective and retain a sense of humour
  10. Every day, seek to build your child’s Reserve of Self Esteem

Catch your children being GOOD!

Catch your child being goodIt is easy to fall into a habit of sometimes noticing every single thing that our child does “wrong”, does not do “properly”, or does not do as quickly as we would like! This can be especially true if we are not feeling our best for some reason or have had a previous argument with our child and we’re still not feeling that well towards them!

The result can be a very negative atmosphere in the family and a lot of bickering and frustration for parents and children alike.
To avoid this situation and replace it with a far more pleasant one, you need to:

  1. Ensure that you have appropriately dealt with any issue of past bad or poor behaviour by your child (see Rules, Consequences and Follow Through)
  2. Quickly move on from any past upset or disagreement – what’s past is past.
  3. Be alert to everything (big or small) good or helpful that the child is doing and give them Effective Praise for it and, if appropriate, Reward your child too.

Whether, as a parent, we tend to first notice negative behaviour or tend to first notice positive behaviour in our children makes a big difference to parenting and how children and parents feel about themselves and towards each other.

It is, of course, essential that parents establish and enforce clear rules to govern and control their children’s behaviour. Children need these to feel secure and to know what is expected of them.

But, this said, it is also true that children will display more of the sort of behaviour that their parents pay attention to: if their parents notice and praise the good things they do, children will respond to this and keep doing the good things, because they know they will receive positive parental attention for it. The reverse is also true though: if all that parents comment on or pay attention to is poor behaviour, children will misbehave more, because for most children they want and need their parent’s attention and if it can’t be positive attention (i.e. Praise) they will accept negative attention rather than no attention at all. This is often called “The Attention Principle” or “The Attention Rule”.

So, consider how many positive and negative comments you make to your child(ren) each day and, if you feel that you do tend to first notice what children do wrong, instead really focus on catching your child being good, praising them and seeing the positive differences it makes!