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Positive parenting

Gentle Parenting: What Is It and Is It Worth It?

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The word ‘parenting’ has more meaning to it than you think. Just Google the word and you’ll find a long list of links pointing towards different styles of parenting, tips and tricks to being a good parent, what’s effective and what isn’t and so on. Well, I’m not promising you something different but at the same time, this blog is not about something mainstream.Today, we’ll be discussing gentle parenting. We’ll dive deep into the subject to help you understand if you are ready to be a gentle parent.

What is Gentle Parenting?

Like I said before, I’m not going to talk about something mainstream and gentle parenting falls perfectly in this description.

Gentle Parenting is a scientific, evidence-based, approach to raising confident and happy children.

-Sarah Ockwell Smith (Childcare Author and Parenting Expert)

Gentle parenting is just another style of parenting or disciplining that takes a different route than the traditional methods. If you were born in the 1990s or before, it’s more than likely that you’re grown up in an authoritarian style of parenting. It includes the system of reward and punishment. The word ‘grounded’ will help kick in more nostalgia for the younger times.

But, when we talk about gentle parenting, it doesn’t include the concept of reward or punishment. In simple words, gentle parenting is more focused on the parent’s attitude and its effect on the parent-child relationship than that of the child. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely some emphasis on the child but the inclination is more towards your attitude and the way you deal with situations to build or break a bond.

As a gentle parent, you are expected to understand your child, their motives, intentions and mindset and act accordingly. You have to create a bond with the child where he or she feels that their voice can be heard. The method requires you to be supportive of the right things and understanding about the wrong ones. Develop mutual trust and respect so that the child feels that their home and parent is a safe space.

Here’s a quick overview of the dos and don’ts of the gentle parenting method.

Dos of Gentle Parenting

Your job is to connect with your child and be guiding and encouraging. Give them space to be themselves and guide them wherever and whenever necessary. Always remember, the way you deal with your child is the way they’ll respond to you. If you are kind and understanding, you will observe the same in their behavior too.

Don’ts of Gentle Parenting

As a gentle parent, you are not trying to be controlling, punishing or demanding. Try not to project your wishes, ideals, opinions or feelings onto your child. They are their own being. Understand that and act accordingly. Spend time with them. Play a game (I love chutes and ladders) or go to family dinners. Try to build a strong parent-child relationship.

What Are the Core Values of Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting style doesn’t really have any clear-cut book of rules. It’s very dynamic in the sense that a parent can work around its core values and define their own way of gentle parenting. So, let’s talk about these core values to help you better understand how to go about this parenting style.

Gentle parenting style is all about building a relationship with your child. How you go about it is your choice. But, as Sarah Ockwell describes in her book, you must try and build the bond on 4 core values or pillars. These are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Respect
  3. Understanding
  4. Boundaries

Empathy

In the gentle parenting method, you need to follow the technique of ‘mind-mindedness’. Simply put, understand that your child has their own mind, thoughts and opinions. Be empathetic to their emotions and feelings and respond accordingly.

Respect

Never let yourself slide into the thought of ‘it’s my child, I’ll parent in whatever way I please.’ This attitude will lead you to pressure your child into things you feel are right or appropriate. Remember, it’s your child but it’s also human. So, you must accept their right to be treated with dignity and respect. When you respect them, they will respect you too.

Understanding

You have to start thinking from the perspective of your child. Don’t expect your 2-year-old to behave or act a certain way everywhere. Understand that their mind isn’t developed like that of an adult. If they are behaving inappropriately or different from usual, try to understand their perspective. Ask a question like why, who, where, when and how, to figure out what led to something. There’s always a reason behind your child’s behavior. It won’t always be a big issue but a reason will always be there. Try to decode the situation in every case.

Boundaries

Gentle parenting involves boundaries. In any case, gentle parenting does not take away the role of a parent, that is, of authority. So you can be strict and have rules but at the same time, you’ve got to be warm and open.

You can decide these boundaries on your own terms (keeping all the other values in mind). But, it should neither be all about leniency and saying ‘yes’ to everything and nor about being extremely strict. Find a center that works for both of you and move forward.

How is Gentle Parenting Different From Other Styles of Parenting?

With all the other styles of parenting in the picture, it can be difficult to pick the one that’ll be right for your family. So, let’s understand how gentle parenting differs from the three other popular styles of parenting.

Authoritarian Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Authoritarian parenting involves expecting obedience from the child in every aspect. More often than not, an authoritarian parent sets expectations from the child and tries to mold the behavior of the child to fulfill those expectations. One of the most common aspects of authoritarian parenting is the concept of punishment and reward. While such reinforcement might help build or curb a behavior, studies show that it has a negative impact on a child’s psychology.

Gentle parenting steers clear from the one-way communication of authoritarian parenting. Parents are open to discussions and try to build a relationship where the child feels no hesitation to express themselves. Reinforcement techniques of reward and punishment are avoided.

Attachment Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Attachment parenting is all about attachment. For the first few years of growth, the parent creates a bond with the child using attachment techniques such as co-sleeping and quick response to their needs.

Gentle parenting doesn’t restrict itself to babies or young children. While the technique may be similar to attachment parenting such as the principle of being gentle but it’s more about being kind and creating mutual respect and understanding in the long run.

Permissive Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

Permissive parenting comes from the other end of the spectrum that includes parents treating their children as equals. So they do not get into their business and the child generally gets away with most things. They never say no and always try to please the child in whatever way they can. In simple words, it’s a ‘hands-off’ parenting technique.

Gentle parenting involves kindness but does not have a hands-off style. It includes the creation of boundaries, rules and regulations but by keeping in mind the other principles of respect, empathy and understanding.

Is Gentle Parenting Effective?

Yes, gentle parenting is effective. But, it’s not a style that will give you immediate results. The primary idea of gentle parenting is to understand that a child is an individual that is growing. At every point in time, they may have a different mindset or outlook. So, your technique might also not work at times.

But, that’s what it’s about. You’ve got to change your attitude and way of dealing with your child accordingly. That’s how you’ll be able to have a child that turns out to be kind, independent and expressive.

Benefits of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting might be a new way of parenting the child but it’s effective and in some cases even better than the traditional methods. If you are trying gentle parenting or think of giving it a try, you can be more sure about the results with the following benefits that the method entails.

  • The child learns about self worth.
  • The child turns out to be intelligent.
  • They are better at regulating their emotions.
  • They are more independent.
  • They are more sociable.
  • They develop healthy adult relationships.
  • They are less secretive.
  • They are more empathetic towards others.

Gentle parenting is not only beneficial for the child but it’s also a good thing for the parents. When you have a better bond with your child, you have less worries about the child hiding things from you or behaving in a way that you don’t know how to deal with. In the long run, you have a kid that’s independent and knows how to differentiate between wrong and right.

The family dynamic is not tense and there’s no room for resentment to build up. The boundaries created by the parents feel less like restrictions and more like a way of developing a sense of security.

Parents realizing that they have no control over the emotions or feelings of the child helps them not blame themselves for things they can’t control. So, eventually, gentle parenting results in the happiness of both the child and the parent.

What Are the Drawbacks of Gentle Parenting?

Most people question the style of gentle parenting mostly because it does not have a specific definition. It’s more like a mixture of all the important factors or different parenting styles that can be molded by the parent according to what they need. It’s dynamic nature is often seen as a pro as well as a con.

Some people think it’s too lenient. But in reality, gentle parenting can be stricter than other parenting styles. It all depends on the way you create boundaries for your children.

In addition to this, it may be difficult for parents to mold themselves into the parenting style. You have let go of the way you were brought up and think in a way that generates kind responses and an understanding attitude. It’s hard work and may even take years to show results. But, in the long run, you invest in a healthy and happy home and an independent, empathetic and wise child.

Are You a Gentle Parent?

There’s no foolproof way to determine if you are a gentle parent or not. But, to have some idea about where you stand, try to answer the following questions.

Are you kind to your child?

You have to be kind to your child in every situation. The idea of punishment, time-outs and yelling is not practiced by a gentle parent.

Are you patient?

A child is still learning. So, their behavior will be unpredictable at times. You cannot lash out at them for it. Take some time, reflect on the situation, try to understand it before responding.

Are you treating your child like a ‘mini-adult’?

It’s crucial to understand that a child is a child. If you are expecting your child to behave, learn and respond like adults, you are in the wrong direction. Gentle parenting will help you develop realistic expectations from your child.

Are you creating a safe space for your child?

Gentle parenting emphasizes creating a bond with your child. It should be strong enough for the child to feel safe and expressive around you.

Are you projecting your opinions on your child?

Your expectations from your child shouldn’t be based on your idea of what’s right and what’s not. You have to be a parent that’s parenting without being selfish.

How to Practice Gentle Parenting?

Like we’ve discussed already, gentle parenting is all about developing a relationship using the 4 core values. You can use it to create a gentle parenting style that will work for your family. But, if you need some help, here are a few ways you can try to begin.

Gentle parenting for bedtime

You don’t stop parenting your child during or after bedtime. Use the pillars of gentle parenting to soothe the child. If there’s something that’s bothering them, be there to talk to them. Whatever they need, be there to deal with it like a gentle parent.

Gentle parenting for improper behavior

Children are not born with the gene to figure out what’s right and wrong. So you will face situations where you have to deal with improper behavior. But remember, with gentle parenting, you are not punishing or laying threats on your child for inappropriate behavior.

Take time to access the situation and choose a path that will help the child fix their behavior. For instance, if a child breaks a very important vase, instead of getting furious and punishing them, make them glue it up instead. Whatever you do, make sure you give them a clear explanation of why you decided to do something. It helps clear any tension and helps the child understand limits and rules more effectively.

Gentle parenting alternatives to yelling

Yelling never helps ease a situation. It builds tension in your relationship with the child. Instead, try to replace yelling with some gentle parenting techniques. Calm yourself down, understand the predicament of your child and move forward. This way you are neither stressing your child nor yourself.

Gentle parenting techniques for building a relationship

Let’s be honest, building a relationship with your child can be challenging. It’s difficult to maintain a balance between being a parent and being a friend. But, if you wish to be a gentle parent, you have to find the sweet spot. To do that, remember these four points:

  • Listen
  • Understand
  • Respond
  • Communicate

Takeaway

There’s no lack of parenting styles out there. Each has its pros and cons. You can take your time to find out which one will suit your family.

When it comes to gentle parenting, it’s a happy mean between authoritarian, permissive and attachment parenting. Each of these methods focus on excessive control, child pleasing attitude and excessive attachment, respectively. But, gentle parenting is all about not being selfish, being there for your child and allowing them to express while being aware of the boundaries.

So, are you ready to be a gentle parent?

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Positive parenting

Why are Consequences an Essential Part of Positive Parenting?

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If you grew up in the 1900s, you might be forgiven for thinking that today’s parents have lost their minds. In our generation, discipline was synonymous with corporal punishment or what kids today call violence. That should ensure that every child walked in the straight and narrow path to success.

However, you might agree that most kids who were raised in that generation are battling some serious self-esteem issues. Including an inability to stand up for themselves, and even PTSD resulting from all the clobbering, insults, and threats that went on.

Because of such issues, numerous researchers and child development experts like Haim Ginott and Rudolf Dreikurs had to find a more child-friendly mode of disciplining and raising kids. They emphasized sparing the emotional and mental state of the child.

Introducing Positive Parenting

Positive parenting has come a long way over the last couple of decades, and there is more research supporting it. In essence, it is the opposite of a previous parenting culture and philosophy. It addresses the cause of the misbehaviour instead of punishing the person misbehaving.

Positive parenting is defined as a ‘continual relationship between a child and the parents that include caring, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing for the child’s needs unconditionally and consistently.’

The idea comes from the thought that children are intrinsically good. They want to do the right thing if given the right guidance and teachings.

Also read the article How to Introduce Positive Parenting

Misconceptions of Positive Parenting

Positive parenting seeks to raise kids who are well-adjusted and build their self-esteem as opposed to destroying it. It does this by removing violence, insults, and any harsh language or tone from parenting. However, most people think that this means letting kids do whatever they want, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In fact, consequences are the pillars that hold positive parenting together. They are the guidelines that govern how a child will behave at every stage of their development. Without consequences, positive parenting would not be possible because children would go haywire and lack discipline.

The Difference between Consequences and Punishment

Where maintaining discipline and guiding children are concerned, there are two ways to go about it; consequences or punishment.

What’s the difference between the two?

Consequences are the results or direct effect of any action. This can be a positive or negative result, depending on which action was taken. The goal of consequences is to teach a lesson that will lead to positive choices. More importantly, consequences encourage self-examination, accepting responsibility for one’s action, and learning from their mistakes. Consequences are directly and logically connected, so it’s easy for the child to understand and accept them.

For example, a child misuses his phone or toy, and the parents take away the said item for a while. This is different from parents taking away the child’s toy because they fought with a peer because the two are not related in any way.

Punishment, on the other hand, is inflicting emotional or physical pain, and it’s meant to cause suffering. It is characterized by violence, criticism, disapproval, domination, and sarcasm. Instead of teaching positive choices, punishment causes resentment. It teaches children to rely on the outer voice giving commands instead of their inner voice of self-control.

Punishment also teaches children that fear, intimidation, and revenge are okay. That makes them susceptible to joining negative peer groups like gangs and cults. More importantly though, punishment damages the child’s self-esteem and does not facilitate secure child-parent attachment.

How to do it right

But the one place where punishment fails completely is that it emphasizes what not to do but never what to do instead.

For example:

  • A child doesn’t pick up his toys after playing, the parent spanks him.
  • A nine-year old talks back at his parents, the mother washes his mouth with soap.

In essence, the difference between consequences and punishment is that consequences help the child look at their mistake and correct them. Punishment makes the child direct their attention to their parents with feelings of hatred and frustration, instead of the mistake.

What are Consequences in Positive Parenting?

In positive parenting, a consequence is what happens to a child after an action. This can be a natural consequence such as hurting your leg after jumping on the couch, or imposed consequences such as having your phone taken away because you used it in class.

There are two types of consequences;

Positive consequences

Positive consequences are results that occur after you do something right. In positive parenting, it is important to involve positive consequences as much as you do negative ones to reinforce good behaviour.

Positive consequences include praise, attention, and rewards. They operate under the logic that children are more likely to keep up with the good behaviour if they are appreciated and even rewarded for it.

Did the child spend less time in front of the TV to study? Show them some acknowledgment and mention it when their grades improve. Did they remember to clean their room, give them a big high five and say ‘good job’.

Negative consequences

Negative consequences are what happens when the child misbehaves or does something bad to discourage that behaviour.  The logic here is that children need to know the difference between right and wrong.

Some examples of negative consequences include losing privileges like TV, phone, and video games.

Be extremely careful with timeouts and ignoring the child. Positive parenting is not about rejecting the child as a person. It´s but directing the child´s attention to harmful behaviour and emotions that they need to correct.

Parents can also allow natural consequences to happen to their children for them to learn.

Why are Consequences Important?

Consequences are easily the most important part of positive parenting because they reinforce good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. If a child does something good that you would like them to continue doing, you reinforce it with attention, reward, recognition, and praise. If they misbehave, you use negative consequences to stop the bad behaviour and teach them how to behave better.

Consequences also provide kids with the tools they need to make good choices in their lives. By teaching them the law of cause and effect, you give them the power to choose what they want in their lives every day.

How to Teach Consequences

When used correctly, consequences in the context of positive parenting have the power to shape a child into a responsible and well behaved human being. There are two smart parenting tricks to teach consequences effectively;

Observe and describe

The Observe and Describe method is used at the exact moment the child is misbehaving. You observe the behaviour and describe what they are doing. Then you explain what they should have done instead.

Correcting behaviour

This method is used if your child continues to misbehave even after you have done Observe and Describe. For example, if they throw something in anger after you observe and describe the misbehaviour, you would say, “I understand you are mad because I said ‘no’ but it’s not okay to throw stuff. Since you threw that toy, you won’t have ice-cream today. If you can calm down and do what mummy said, then you can get a different treat later.

By using these two methods, you calmly but firmly teach the child that there are consequences to every action they take, good or bad. Most importantly, you do this without causing any resentment or friction between the two of you.

How to Deliver Consequences

Among the most significant distinctions between consequences and punishment is how they are delivered to the child. To be effective, consequences must be delivered in a calm, matter of fact manner without any emotions. You might want to take a minute or two to compose yourself and think through the consequences before you deliver them to your child.

 Ask yourself, is what you are about to say meant to teach them something, or are you doing it because they made you mad? Will you be able to deliver the consequence in a safe way using a respectful tone? Does your body language and tone say consequences or punishment?

These six tips have been helpful to many parents when delivering consequences;

  • Plan and think through it what you want to achieve with that consequence calmly.
  • Be consistent when providing consequences and stick to it no matter what.
  • Focus on only what you can control, which is delivering the consequences but not trying to control the child.
  • Think of it as a business deal or a job that you must do and don’t take the behaviour personally.
  • Accept your limitations that you can’t change your child. It is their responsibility to choose right over wrong after you have shown them the way.
  • Use ‘I’ instead of ‘You’ when delivering consequences to show your stand on the issue instead of sounding like you are blaming or attacking them.

Last Thought

Choosing consequences over punishment when raising children who continuously push your boundaries will be one of the hardest things you have ever done. The trick is taking a minute out for yourself to get your emotions out of it. Handle the rest like you would if you were in the office, calmly and tactfully.

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Positive parenting

How to Introduce Positive Parenting

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Yes, how to introduce positive parenting ia what we talk about now!

Positive parenting has become quite the hot topic these days, with most parenting blogs advocating for more parents to try it out. At first glance, this parenting style differs greatly from how you were brought up. That’s why most people mistakenly think it’s parenting without consequences. But that’s incorrect. Positive parenting isn’t a vague parenting philosophy that purports being nice to your kids when they don’t deserve it. No, it’s a strategic parenting method that focuses on your relationship with your child and your ability to help them develop self-discipline.

If you have never been comfortable with traditional forms of discipline, then positive parenting might be something you want to try. There are three main parts of positive parenting: committing to regulating your emotions, prioritizing your relationship with your child, and loving them unconditionally. The power of this positive parenting philosophy lies in using prevention, distractions, and substitution techniques to stop your child from doing what you don’t want them to do. If you are interested in positive parenting, here’s all you need to know about this parenting style.

What is Positive Parenting?

This parenting philosophy can be defined as the continual relationship between you and your kid that includes caring, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing all their needs consistently and unconditionally. Unlike traditional parenting styles, positive parenting is defined as nurturing, empowering, and nonviolent. It provides recognition and guidance, such as setting boundaries to enable the full development of your child. The goal of positive parenting is to teach kids discipline in a way that fosters their self-esteem, supports mutual respect between the two of you, and doesn’t break your child’s spirit. Positive parenting is warm, thoughtful, and loving, not permissive. This means that children are held accountable for their actions and not let off the hook.

Discipline has always had a bad rep and a purely punitive undertone. However, the term actually defines the process of correcting, molding, and perfecting mental abilities or moral character. This means that discipline is meant to be instructive, which means your disciplinary role as a parent is to teach and guide, not punish. As your child’s teacher, you have to respectfully show them the behavioral choices they have and positively reinforce adaptive behaviors.

How to introduce positive parenting

There’s a recurrent theme when it comes to positive parenting: it is loving yet firm. Even though it is authoritative, it balances different parenting qualities such as being assertive but not intrusive; demanding but also responsive; supportive but not punitive. Children learn a lot of the things they do through modeling. This means that if you want them to learn the right way to communicate and handle conflict, you have to show it to them. Gone are the days of “because I said so” or “Am the parent, and you have to do as I say.” If you want your kid to listen to you, you have to lead by example. 

A good look at positive parenting strategies shows that they encourage a child’s autonomy by supporting exploration and your child’s involvement in decision-making; paying attention and responding to their needs; using effective communication techniques; rewarding and encouraging positive behavior; attending to your kid’s need to express their emotions and find control; acting as a positive role model, making positive family experiences a priority and giving adequate supervision and monitoring.

Put simply, positive parenting supports your child’s healthy growth and inner spirit by being loving, supportive, consistent, involved, and firm. Being a positive parent goes beyond communicating your expectations but also practicing what you preach by being a good role model for them.

Read the article Positive parenting: Why it works miracles

What to avoid

Positive parenting shares a few similarities with authoritative parenting in that it should be done in a way that’s firm but loving. Most importantly, it is not violent, aggressive, or critical. Negative reinforcement and punishment methods such as spanking are ineffective since the overall goal of discipline is to teach and guide, not punish. This means you have to find ways to discipline your child that are firm but kind; promote their sense of belonging and significance; help your kids build and develop their capabilities, teach valuable life and social skills, and work long term. Positive parenting means using positive disciplinary techniques. However, this can be tough to do, especially if you feel like your child is working extra hard at trying to get you mad. Here are a few techniques you can use.

Techniques to use in positive parenting

Set appropriate boundaries

Every relationship needs boundaries, and this applies to the relationship between you and your children. Having boundaries is key to having a successful, positive parenting experience. It lets everyone involved know what is acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Setting and enforcing boundaries makes you feel calm and patient because your needs are being respected and met. A good indicator that you need to establish new boundaries is when you are feeling exasperated, impatient, or angered by your child’s recurring behavior. For instance, do you feel resentful that your child asks you to play first thing in the morning, even before you have properly woken up? If so, establish a rule that you have to get up, have your coffee before you are available to play with them. Expect some resistance, but you will be a better parent if your needs are being met. This will also serve as a good example to your kids for how to advocate for their own needs.

Build a connection to get your child to cooperate with you

To be considered as an authority figure in your child’s life, you need to have a connection with them that goes further than “because I said so.” This connection will make it a lot easier for your child to listen to you even when you’re at odds. If your youngster is going through a hard time and expressing themselves erratically, carve out some extra time to connect. It doesn’t have to be a long period, but it has to be consistent. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted, dedicated time with your child can help strengthen your connection and your relationship as a whole. 

Be loving but steadfast in your principles

With positive parenting, a lot rides on the tone you use. Your child must understand that you love them unconditionally but also be firm when it comes to discipline. You want to build mutual respect, so be unyielding and hold your kids to high expectations but in a loving way. Settle on what rules are important to you and clearly communicate this to your kid. For instance, if your kid comes home past curfew, keep your word and follow through with the appropriate consequences. If you say there will be consequences for not doing something, then follow through with the disciplinary action. They will respect you for being a person who keeps to their work even through tough times.  

Use consequences

Consequences are the outcomes of actions. The consequence or what happens after your child behaves a particular way can make the behavior more or less likely to happen again. This means that consequences can be both positive and negative. When used in a positive light, they are referred to as rewards. When trying to discipline your child, you can use two kinds of consequences: natural and logical consequences. Natural consequences are the natural results of their actions. For instance, if your toddler refuses to wear a raincoat when they go out in the rain, they will get wet. So next time it rains, they will most likely wear the raincoat because they don’t want to get wet.

On the other hand, logical consequences are used when the natural consequence is not available or enough. For instance, your kid must put all their legos back after they are done playing. The natural consequence of not doing so is that they would lose some; however, this might not be enough incentive for them to put their legos away. In this case, try to think of a related consequence, such as if you find or step on a lego, you will put it away where they can’t find it.  

Use of positive reinforcement

It’s easy to focus on bad behavior and forget the good ones. Whenever your child does something commendable, don’t forget to appreciate it. This does mean you need an elaborate reward system; even a simple thank you or acknowledgment will do. This positive praise helps your child maintain a positive self-identity.

Be patient with the process

Positive parenting and positive discipline techniques won’t produce results right away. It takes time, so be patient and trust the process. This parenting philosophy isn’t about getting quick results; it is about teaching your child behaviors they will emulate. You’ll have a lot of teaching to do in the beginning since this will be fairly new to both of you, and while some changes might happen fast, others might take longer. Unlike traditional punitive disciplinary methods with positive discipline, you need to repeat the behavior you want to see. Sometimes it might take days, others weeks and sometimes even months before your child gets it. Don’t give up because the benefits will last a lifetime.

Most parents strive to be great parents; however, you may find yourself confused and frustrated by the never-ending challenges of parenting. Positive parenting strengthens the bond and trust between you and your little one. It also removes the constant tension between the two of you by teaching your child that they can respond to difficult moments without threats, yelling, being bribed, or physical punishment. By adopting positive parenting techniques, you can foster the most beneficial parenting behaviors that will positively impact your child’s development.

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Positive parenting

Positive parenting: Why it works miracles

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Megan is usually a calm child. She smiles a lot, hardly cries, and is always ready to share her toys with other kids. But, as a two-year-old, Megan goes from zero to one hundred pretty quickly. Like most kids her age, she throws a fit and hits her mom, sometimes throwing her toys and smashing them. Megan has to get what she wants, when she wants it, and how she wants it. Her mother can either comply or deal with the aftermath.

This is the same thing Mark is going through with his teen son. The clean, tidy, and hardworking boy suddenly want to stay in his room all day. He refuses to shower unless Mark threatens him, and this doesn’t always work. He neglects his school work and would prefer to spend more time with his friends than his family. Obviously, this isn’t sitting well with Mark and his wife.

Think back to when you were a child. You probably thought about having your own family one day and how that would be for you. Like most kids, you acted out your thoughts during play as you interacted with your toys. This isn’t a surprise because, according to research, almost 90% of adults will become parents.

Research by Pew Research Center, in 2016, the first lot of millennial women, around 1.2 million gave birth. Now, try asking any of them the kind of parent they want to be. Without a doubt, most want to be a better version of their parents: some, the complete opposite.

While most of us work towards this, parenting challenges, especially in the 21st century, still throws us off balance. There isn’t a precise manual you can follow to parent kids. And when you search the internet, you are likely to be confused by all the advice available.

But all isn’t lost. With numerous researches on parenting, there are various tools and strategies available for the modern-day parent. With a little search, you will find a sea of helpful information for common challenges such as tantrums, behavior problems, and picky eaters.

One of the widely spread strategies is positive parenting. If you are looking for a way to focus on your child’s health, happiness, and development, then you came to the right place. This article will introduce positive parenting, the psychology behind it, and explain why it works. Even on kids like Megan and the rogue teen.

What is positive parenting?

 Ever attended a kid’s sports day where all kids got trophies? This is what most people have in mind when they think of positive parenting. It’s often confused to mean that kids face no consequences. Instead, they have to be pampered and soothe with rainbows and sunshine all the time.

This isn’t what Alfred Adler, a renounced psychologist had in mind when he came up with this parenting strategy. Let’s look at a little history to understand his thoughts.

Decades ago, in the 1900s, people held a traditional view of children. In their eyes, kids were to be ‘seen and never heard.’ You could pretty much do whatever you wanted, and spanking kids wasn’t a new phenomenon or frowned upon.

If Megan, the little girl we talked about earlier, threw a fit, she would get a nice beating to straighten her up. However, Adler was strongly against this traditional view. He insisted that kids deserve respect and should be treated with dignity.

Working with his counterpart Rudolf Driekers, a psychiatrist, the two developed positive parenting to help you focus on developing strong, deep relationships with your kids.

Positive parenting is thus: “Focusing on the relationship between you and your children, which includes carrying, leading, teaching, communicating, and providing for kids unconditionally and consistently.”

According to Debbie Godfrey, a certified parent educator, kids are born with a strong desire to do good. In fact, all kids are ‘good kids’ and altruistic since birth. A parent’s job is to teach discipline, build their kid’s self-esteem, and nurture their relationship without breaking their spirit.

Positive parenting encourages a warm, loving, and thoughtful way to raise kids, but this doesn’t mean you should be lenient. Instead, you should be both compassionate and firm.

The idea of being compassionate and firm was embraced by Jane Nelson, Ed.D who used it as the foundation of the Positive Discipline Methodology. This methodology is the foundation of positive parenting as we know it today, and it involve three major principles.

The psychology of positive parenting

1.    Every child has a primary goal to achieve belonging and significance

According to Tony Robbins, everyone has six basic human needs. These are: 

  • Certainty
  • Variety or uncertainty
  • Significance
  • Love and to connect with others
  • Growth 
  • Contribution 

Robbins says the need to feel significant is so strong because we all want to feel special, needed, and to have a meaning in life. We want to have that unique thing that makes us proud of who we are.

Now, when kids are born, their immediate basic needs are clothing, housing, and food. But, once these needs are met, kids crave to feel significant and that they belong.

For a child, feeling that they belong means they feel emotionally connected to the people who are important to them. Kids also want to feel that they have a place in the family and fit in with everyone else.

To feel significant, kids want the certainty that they can offer something meaningful to the family and make a difference. They also want to feel in power and exert this power over others and their world. That’s why older kids ruffle their sibling, who undoubtedly fight back as they try to regain their power. When a teen boy will refuse to do his homework. He is simply trying to exert his power over his world.

2.    Every behavior has a goal

Let’s think of Megan for a minute. Before she threw a fit, she wanted to help her mother set the table. Now, this is a big task for a two-year-old. A serving dish is too heavy for their little hands to hold, but Megan would have none of it. She had to help. Obviously, there is no way her mother was letting that happen.

Following what we have already said, Megan might merely be trying to feel significant. She wants to fit in with the rest of the family and is actively looking for her ‘spot.’ That’s why she insists on setting the table and carrying the serving dish like her mother. 

Unfortunately, most kids can’t articulate their motivation and desires because they are too young. Sometimes, they don’t even know what’s wrong. Like Megan, they throw tantrums to show their dissatisfaction.

But, from what we have learned from Adler, your kids are simply trying to achieve significance and belonging. Most misbehaviors are only symptoms of what’s ailing them and not the real problem. Because we often don’t know better, we learn to put a band-aid on the symptom, leaving the root cause unattended. 

Positive parenting teaches us to deal with the problem, the need for significance and belonging, without affecting the kid’s spirit. So, before you take away their gadgets or whatever other technique you use, first listen to your child and understand the real problem. 

3.    A child who misbehaves is a discouraged child

When children misbehave, they aren’t trying to be defiant, mean, bad, or uncontrollable. They simply mean they are discouraged. Think of Mark’s teen son for a second. He refuses to do anything his parents ask of him.

According to Mark, he is defiant and uncontrollable, but that’s not what Adler thought. Instead, this behavior simply means the teen doesn’t feel like he belongs or significant. He feels out of place and that he doesn’t have the power to control his life. Instead of saying this, he doesn’t do his homework, shower, or spend time with his family. That’s how he shows it.

It’s easy to miss this cry for help, so be on the lookout. Your child is trying to tell you something isn’t right with them. Sadly, kids don’t simply open up and tell you what’s ailing them. Instead, they misbehave. 

Here’s the interesting thing, though. When they misbehave, kids immediately have your attention, which is what they wanted in the first place. So, when they feel discouraged for a long time, they start believing that their ill manners are the best way to get your attention.

Misbehavior also frustrates you, which shows the kid that they have some level of control. And, honestly, everyone wants to be in control, right?

Our job is to see and recognize the signs instead of seeing as if we are failing as parents for having ‘difficult’ kids. 

Positive parenting: Does it work?

There are several reasons why this parenting method works.

  • Builds the relationship between parents and kids – you are more sensitive to your kid’s needs, become responsive and consistent in your interaction. Kids are happier, optimistic, and motivated to be on their best behavior.
  • There is mutual respect – children get to understand why there are rules, so they are likely to follow them. On the other hand, you understand why kids do what they do. Thus, you become more empathetic.
  • Sets a positive example – you become a good role model for your kids. Kids learn more from what you do than from what you say. When you respond calmly in stressful situations, your kids learn to do the same, learning to build cooperative relationships.
  • Build self-confidence – children learn to make better choices since you focus on learning for the future instead of punishing their past behavior. Once your kids start to follow through, your self-confidence as a parent also increases.

For positive parenting to work, you need to set clear expectations and consequences for your child and follow through each time. Lack of consistency will only confuse your little one and make them push your buttons to see if you will ‘let it go.’ It takes hard work, commitment, and follow-through, but the results are well worth it. Since each child is unique, remember to factor in their uniqueness as you make the rules. 

If you feel like you have tried everything with your kids, and nothing is working, positive parenting may be the solution you seek. Remember, however, it’s not a wish from a genie. Give yourself and your kids time to adjust to the new norm, and soon, you will notice the results.

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Positive parenting

Become The Master Of Your Thoughts!

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Thoughts are things – thoughts are life

Most of us have been there. We cannot get rid of a negative thoughts or a worrying nagging in our head. It goes around and around and seems to eat up way too much of our time and energy.

Maybe the thoughts are about ourselves, our self-doubt. That we are not good enough or not as good as others. We question everything we do and worry that people think badly of us or. Or, even worse, talk about us behind our backs.

We might feel ‘why me?’ ‘What have I done to deserve this, I can’t take it anymore.’
Maybe we worry about our life and our family. I support parents who often struggle with regular worrying thoughts about their kid’s challenges, i.e. special needs, emotional, social or academic challenges.

It can be our job, relationships, finance, housing and much more. But the bottom line is that we spend too much time having negative thoughts and worries.

Maybe we worry and think to much about the past. Who did what and why. Or fear the future: what will happen to me, my kids, my family, my job etc.

The problem is that we forget to enjoy and think about the here and now. We miss opportunities to enjoy small moments in our life with our kids – we are so busy placing all our focus on the negative thoughts and worries in our life!

This constant thinking about negative things or worrying about what might or might not happen can be exhausting. We often find that we cannot sleep. Or don’t have the energy to do the things we like doing, be the parent we want to be, or the friend, partner or employee that we need to be. We don’t feel as productive and effective as we know we should. Our thoughts are controlling how we live our lives!

The problem is time

And that is the thing. It is how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts that causes them to develop into anxiety, depression, sadness and to take over our lives. We overthink and worry so much that we feed our negativity by giving it our full focus.

What we choose to focus on the most we will cultivate and grow!

So, over-thinking keeps these negative thoughts alive; the more we think about it the bigger a problem gets.

Why do we spend so much time on negative thoughts?

So why is it that we might spend 4 hours instead of 30 minutes a day on our negative thoughts? Well, we might think that by thinking about it we can control it – do something about it – find a solution. But we usually just go around in circles, not actually finding a solution just making it bigger by feeding it!

Solution: Master our thoughts!

So, what can we do now that we know that it is how much time we allow these thoughts to take up in our life that makes them grow? We cannot just stop thinking and get rid of them.

The solution lies in awareness and choice. Choice is freedom. First, we need to stop fighting the thoughts – step into them and give them a name. What is it that worries you, makes you think negatively? ‘I am worried because my child is having severe anger issues’….

Then it is all about how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts. So, we need to control our time and what we do with it.

“Doing nothing is doing everything” – Adrian Wells

He talks about ‘lazy therapy’, where we allow ourselves to do less to achieve more.

And we can use it here when we are trying to control the time we spend on our negative thoughts. In order to give our negative thoughts a rest we need to be able to control them.

Try this:

  • Become aware of what negative thoughts control your life: I.e. I worry about my child’s anxiety.
  • No need to fight the thought, just give it a rest. Put time aside every day – maybe every second day or once a week. Make sure it is not late at night so we don’t take the thought with us to bed to feed our unconscious mind. Here we have the thought, we accept it but we don’t give it focus or attention – we diminish it, make it smaller.

I was supporting a mum who worried about her daughter all the time. She decided to control the time and every time the feeling pop into her mind she told her self ‘that is ok, this is my feeling – but I don’t need to focus on it now but will do it a 17.00’. She said she felt so powerful and understood (by self). Overtime she realized that the thoughts took up less and there was space for other productive and positive thoughts!

  • Give it a rest. When the negative thought pops up in your mind – leave it alone. Put it to sleep. Tell yourself that you can take it up later as planned, for example at 5 o’clock or tomorrow at 9.30.
  • Plan some positive self-thinking to substitute the negative thoughts when they pop up: Replace it with a thought about the last time you had a nice time with your child. A time he really was ok. Think about his smile, the last laugh you had together etc. to challenge the negative thinking. Here you are shifting the focus from a negative thought to a more positive one – your choice. Again, if you choose to place more attention on your positive thinking you will…cultivate and grow it!
  • Distract yourself: if we do what we have always done we get what we have always got. So, when the negative thought pops up, stop and park it for later – you challenge it with some positive thoughts but you can also remove yourself from where you are right now. Sometimes doing something else or going somewhere else breaks the cycle. Go for a walk out in nature. Have a bath. Listen to some nice music that makes you relaxed and happy. Bake a cake etc. Here we are not active but passive around our negative thoughts.
  • Avoid the trigger thoughts: Is there anybody or anything that triggers your negative thoughts? It can be the news, it can be a person who always makes you feel ‘less’. It can be when you are alone. Again, get in control of these triggers. Avoid the news or only watch it at planned times. Hang out with radiator people (those who give you warmth) not drains! Have some nice music when you are alone, or read books and magazines that make you feel ok.

In summary

We can have our thoughts without having to fight them and we can master these thoughts once they come. We can actually live with them without being dominated. Once you have found a way to live with your thoughts by giving them less attention and focus you will find that you are in control and you have the freedom of choice

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Positive parenting

Get toddlers to listen without threats – 6 proven tools

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With a busy daily schedule, an important question often is: how do we get our toddlers to listen without threats?

We have all been there where we are in a hurry, tired or desperate and just don’t have the energy to keep asking politely; we need our kids to do things and get a move on and they don’t want to. So we grab what is always at hand: ‘threats’. But when we use threats and try to control, the fact is that we have lost all control! You know what I mean.

We have opted to use fear over respect. A threat is not respectful but a misuse of our adult power. It might work in the short term. Our anger, yelling and aggression get them out the door, or get them to obey right now. But threats are a sign that we have lost all control and only work out of fear.

Also read the article Gentle parenting – 8 steps to parenting without yelling

How to get the toddler to respect us

We can’t demand respect, only earn it. And threats only make our kids scared of us and uneasy because our behavior becomes unpredictable, impulsive and aggressive. While it might work in the short term, there is a good chance that it fractures the relationship with the child in the longer run. It can even make the child aggressive or withdrawn and submissive if they are used to being ‘crushed’. We do it to gain respect but that is exactly what we lose.

Whats wrong with threats?

What is a threat? When we use anger or force to try to remove something from a child, either an object or their enjoyment of something. We don’t use our own boundaries or principles because we think that the child has more respect for their toy or the playdate, than us.

It often ends up being a punishment that has no logical connection to what we are asking of the child. Hence it has no meaning for the child. It could sound like ‘you will get no dessert if you keep jumping on the sofa’. Or ‘you will go to bed early if you don’t get in the car now’. When our request becomes a threat and a punishment, the child gets confused (because they don’t see the connection), angry (they feel unfairly treated) or sad (we are in danger of shaming and blaming the child)!

6 tools to help you help your toddlers to listen without threats:

  1. Be predictable – set agreeable boundaries:
    • We need to work on their respect for us. That´s by letting them know in advance what the boundaries are, and what will happen if they choose to cross them.
    • In ‘peace times’ sit down and talk about your expectations of your child. For example in the morning: ‘we need to be out the door at 8.10 in order to get to school on time. So let’s agree a routine so we can get out in a calm way’. You can do the same with bedtime, homework, screen time, mealtimes etc. Make sure your child understands what you have agreed to by writing it down or drawing it out.
    • For new situations (i.e. parties, shopping, playdates etc.) you can also sit down with the child beforehand, and explain what will happen. Make sure they understand what your expectations are. Ask the child to repeat what you have just explained.
    • Set agreed rules and routines. Where you feel that you need threats too often, try to agree to a set of routines (mornings getting out the door, homework etc.), and make sure the child is part of setting the routines. Or try to agree to a rule i.e. around hitting, dinner manners, sibling dynamics etc. Make the rules DO rules (not STOP or DON’T). Instead of ‘no hitting’ you can say, ‘kind hands and happy feet’ or, ‘hands to ourselves’.
  1. Control yourself: It can be really irritating when we feel that they will only listen to us when we take to yelling and threats. We might resent our kids because they ‘made’ us so angry. Before you do or say anything stop and breathe. Check in with yourself and get your emotions under control. ‘I am getting really angry but I don’t want this feeling to hijack how I deal with the situation’.
  2. Be curious not furious with your child: try to stop and think, why they didn’t do what you asked of them. Have they not heard or understood your request? Are they so deep in play that it is almost too much to ask them to stop (give them advance warnings and help them slowly to stop play)? Are they tired or hungry? Is your request too hard, considering their age? Does your child need help with your request? What might seem so simple to us might not be for our child. We can ask, ‘Do you need my help with…?’ or, ‘What can I do to help you…?’
  3. Help the child follow through with your request: prepare him for what will happen and when. Give reminders: ‘Sam in 10 minuttes it is time to get off the screen.´ Try not just to ‘throw’ the ‘order’ to your child and expect him to follow through while you are doing something else. Stay physically and mentally connected to the child and the situation. This shows that you are serious but also that you are there if they need help.
  4. Hear your child: Maybe your child needs to be heard. I know you might think, ‘I don’t have time for that’ when you are in a rush, but believe me you will gain time in the long run and will build a foundation of respect, not fear, in the longer term. If your child objects to following through come from a place of, ‘I can hear you are upset because xx. And I understand that you are upset because xx. Now please turn off the screen and go and put on your shoes.’ Stop there…or just repeat!
  5. Praise when they do listen: focus in what you want to see more off. So every time you child show an attempt to listen. step in and acknowledge that you have noticed it and like it. You don’t have to say “thank you”. You can say ‘Sam I noticed that you are trying hard to listen to me, and I really like that’. What you focus the most on you will cultivate and grow!

Get your toddlers to listen without threats

Remember that parenting is not a power struggle about winning or losing. It’s about teaching our kids to grow up to become respectful, independent and content in life.

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Positive parenting Toddler categories

Gentle parenting – 8 steps to parenting without yelling

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We have a vision of Gentle Parenting as sunny mornings around the breakfast table, with an abundance of time and patience. Birds singing, children humming. All smiles and tranguility. I sure do.

Then reality kicks in! Tired toddlers who dont coorperate. No teethbrushing. No boots on. Late for work. Behind with a load of emails that need my attention. They dont want to get in the car. They dont want to get out of the car.

I’m sure we’ve all been there, where we feel that yelling has been our ‘go-to’ reaction. We might start out with the right intentions, we listen, and we stay calm. But in the end, we grab the last resource we have – suddenly we are yelling – and only then do they finally listen and take us seriously. It works!

And I get it; it takes lots of practice and patience to get what we are asking for without yelling or losing our temper.

Why we shouldnt be yelling!

  • When we yell, we have lost all control of ourselves and any chance we had of staying in charge of the situation. Actually, we have given away all the power we might have had.
  • When we start yelling, we have stopped all forms of healthy communication since we are not listening anymore. Our negative emotions have taken over and are controlling us. There is no way forward to solve the issues that respects our kids and sits well with us.
  • It sends a signal to our kid’s brains that they are in danger and they will most likely go into fight or flight mode and will automatically fight back or move away (run away from us, in fact they are just running away from danger)
  • Yelling can have a long-term effect on our kids if it happens too often and we become out of control. Nobody likes to be yelled at and it is a humiliating experience they will carry with them.
  • We are our kids’ biggest role model and from an early age they copy everything we say and do and how we say it! I think you know what I am about to say now. Yes, if we want our kids to stop yelling and start listening, we need to show them how to do it!

Gentle Parenting comes from the inside.

First we need to show and teach our kids how to control our behavior by checking in with our emotions – what we feel in the here and now:

  1. Notice the feeling when it comes, stop what you are about to say or do and take a deep breath. Nothing else for now.
  2. Think: What am I feeling right now? At this point don’t fight it, step into the feeling and accept it, ‘this is my feeling and I cannot get rid of it but I don’t want it to control how I parent next!’
  3. Notice any self-thoughts or doubts and then challenge them. It might be that you think ‘I am so mad right now why does he do this to me’ or ‘I don’t deserve this!’ or ‘here we go again, she is not going to listen to me and she will create another battle’. Stop yourself and challenge these thoughts i.e. ‘I can deal with this, his behavior is normal and will go away’, ‘she is so nice most of the time so we can get through this. Obviously, she is not like this all the time’ etc.
  4. Allow a pause before you do or say anything. This will allow you to get yourself, your emotions and actions under control.
  5. Make a decision: choose what you will do and say, or not do and say. It is ok to take a time out or ignore a child’s behaviour (never ignore the child, only the behaviour i.e. nagging, yelling, moods etc) as long as we re-engage later, restore the balance and connection.
  6. Make it a family agreement to work on the yelling. Have a signal that you can give each other when anybody is about to yell.
  7. Admit to mistakes: We are human, you will get it wrong, but awareness is the first step to change. It is good parenting and role modelling to be able to go back and say, ‘you know what, that was not my finest moment and I am not proud or happy of the way I behaved, I will do my best to changing that and not repeat it’.

Conclusion

Gentle Parenting really means be gentle to yourself: find your own inner peace. Let it radiate from you. 

Just by reading this article you are already changing things for the better, since you care and are willing to work on things. No one said that parenting was going to be easy and most of us are trying our best and sometimes that is good enough!

 

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