Positive Parenting TechniquesMar 13, 2021
Top Parenting Techniques All Parents Should Know
Do you feel like you are losing control of your children? Do you wonder how you can be more positive in your parenting? What’s the best way to get your happy home back? Parenting can present a lot of challenges, so how do you know you are being effective? We can answer these questions by talking about positive parenting techniques.
I’m going to talk briefly about positive parenting and then give you 7 positive parenting tips that can help you on your way to being a more effective parent. Your children will thank you! And you’ll feel more relaxed and IN control even when it feels like your children are NOT!
Let’s get started.
What is positive parenting?
We’ve all felt those times where the house feels like it’s in complete chaos and you’re at the end of your rope. You ask yourself, “How can my children behave this way? Have I lost my touch?” Then you think, “I’m gonna lose it!!” You really feel the irony of the situation when you hear yourself yell,
“STOP YELLING IN THE HOUSE!!”
You take a step back, maybe not right then because you’re angry, but later once the chaos has died down. You think about how that situation could’ve been better. I know. I’ve been there too.
So, you’ve heard the buzz word...positive parenting. It sounds good. Who doesn’t want to be a positive parent? You think, “yeah, I can totally use some more positivity in my parenting techniques.” But what does that actually mean? How do you start doing it? Positive parenting means you’re taking an approach that is mindful of your child’s individual needs. I say individual because every child is different, and not all techniques work the same with each child. It also means you undertake the challenges of raising a child, especially in early childhood, by focusing on empathy and respect. I like those two words...they embody what positive parenting techniques are all about.
Now that we understand positive parenting a little more, let’s look at some techniques you can use to be a more effective parent.
1. Model Respect
Can you expect your children to be respectful if you don’t model that to them? Children learn from what they see you do, and they REALLY pay attention to your behavior. I can definitely see that in my own children, and sometimes I think “do I really do that?” The answer is usually “yes” if I’m being honest with myself. So, that really brings it home that it’s important to model good behavior.
So, what does modeling respect look like? Well, one thing that comes to mind is the word “please.” We want our children to grow up to be respectful people, so we start teaching them young how important that is. I know I do that a lot with my children. If they ask someone for something outside our family, I emphasize the need for them to include that little word that means so much. I want them to say “please” when they ask me for something. What about when I ask them to do a chore or get me something from the kitchen or get ready for bed? Do I say “please” as well? This is one way to model respect for them.
Another thing that comes to mind is apologizing. How many times do we expect our children to apologize? Apologies show respect, too. It shows we recognize we were in the wrong and want to make up for it. Do you also apologize to your kids when you yell or lose your patience or overreact to something? It’s important to model this behavior for them. It softens the situation and helps everyone calm down.
2. Aim for empathy
Sometimes it’s hard to understand our kids. Why are they acting like that? What has gotten into them? One parenting technique that cannot be overstated is aiming for empathy. Okay, but how do I do that? It really boils down to understanding the root of the behavior. If you can take a step back from whatever tantrum or meltdown is happening and really look at WHY it’s happening, then you’ve stepped into the zone of empathy.
Let me give you an example. There’s a mom, let’s call her Janey. She has a 4-year-old daughter whom we’ll call Vanessa. Janey is a working mom, so she has a trusted neighbor who looks after Vanessa while she’s at work. Janey gets done with work and picks Vanessa up from the neighbor’s house expecting to see her usually cheerful girl excited to go home with mommy. Instead, she’s greeted with a tear-stained face that doesn’t seem to want to stop crying. The neighbor apologizes but can’t figure out why she’s crying. Janey takes her home and tries to ask what happened, and why she’s crying. Vanessa just keeps saying “I don’t know!” Well, Janey has to pick up her other kids from school, so she straps the crying child into the carseat with a stern “just stop crying” and goes off to the school. About two minutes into the trip, Janey can’t hear the crying anymore...her sweet 4-year-old has fallen asleep! Well, that explains it! Then she remembers that Vanessa hasn’t slept well the last two nights but has still gotten up at the normal time and gone through her normal schedule. Of course she was fussy!
This example shows the importance of listening to understand and being aware of your child’s needs. Along with empathy, I should mention that it’s important to also avoid shaming. If we say something like “stop being such a baby” in response to a situation like Janey’s, our empathy has suffered. Remember that children are still figuring out how to deal with these big emotions, so we have to help them by emphasizing that the BEHAVIOR needs correcting (we’ll talk more about this later).
3. Set boundaries and be consistent
Boundaries help your children AND you know where the line is and what to expect. It encourages patience because everyone involved feels respected and that their needs are taking priority. Establish rules that will meet your children’s needs and help you keep your sanity.
When enforcing those boundaries, be firm but loving. It’s important for children to know you mean what you say and that you do the things you do out of love. Have you ever caught yourself changing what you said because you’re annoyed and have had enough? Yeah, children catch onto that too! They feel loved and respected when they can see your consistency. Dr. Gordon Neufeld often says “be generous with your yeses and firm with your no’s.”
4. Use positive reinforcement
Have you ever thought that your efforts to correct behavior are falling on deaf ears? Maybe that’s a good indication to focus more on the parenting technique of positive reinforcement! As parents, we may focus on correcting behavior more than on praising behavior. It’s easy to do that! But when we focus on the good, that’s what the child will see is important to you, so that will become more of a focus for them too.
I like the phrase “catch kids being good.” It makes me feel good to say, “I like how you helped your sister clean up her toys.” It always brings a smile to my children’s faces when I catch them being good. That positive reinforcement also boosts their self-esteem, which helps them feel strong and commendable.
5. Emphasize the behavior is bad, the child is NOT
“I’m not a good person.” “I’m such a bad kid.” Would it just break your heart to hear your child say that about themselves? Maybe they have. Maybe it’s because we have a tendency to say things like “why are you being fussy?” instead of asking “what is making you feel upset?”
This parenting technique combines things like respect, empathy, and positive reinforcement. It’s important to teach our children...that’s how they know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Learning comes naturally for our kids. Most teaching happens through us modeling proper behavior, teaching through books and games... and when needed, taking moments to teach. But we need to make sure that in that teaching, they know that the behavior is what we don’t like, not them. Show them that your love is unconditional. We connect before we correct, so it’s important to connect with them and their emotions, and if needed, provide gentle correction. One way to do that is to make the correction and then follow it up with a hug. Children internalize more than we may think, so if we show them that we love them even when they make mistakes, they’ll naturally learn from the behaviors that we are modeling for them.
6. Make time for your kids
Some of the best memories I have of my childhood involve when my parents spent time with us doing things that we loved. I don’t remember all the gifts or things I was given, but I remember my dad having regular Sunday talks with me. I remember my mom taking me out for ice cream. It’ll be the same for your kids, too. When we are present, really there (not just in the same room), our children notice and appreciate it.
Communication is another parenting technique that fits in here. It’s a way of making time for your kids. Does your child love to give you a detailed summary of the book they’re reading? Does your child want to show you AGAIN how they can do a cartwheel? Does your child ask you once, twice, three times to listen so they can tell you something. Do you stop, look at them, and give them your undivided attention? If not, make that effort today!
7. Take care of yourself as a parent
Wait, are you sure this is a parenting technique? Yes, I’m sure! If you’re running on empty, you won’t be able to do the previous 6 solutions we’ve talked about. You’re not always going to be positive, and you’re not always going to have the right parenting solution at the front of your mind. BUT, if you know your own needs and limitations, those things will come much easier to you. Okay, but how?
Take a break. Meditate. Go to that yoga class. Take a long bath. Tell your kids you need 5 minutes before anyone else asks for something. Take a nap. Tell your spouse you need some time alone and TAKE IT! Do whatever you need to do to recharge, so you can be the best parent for those little people in your life. What are you doing that’s JUST for you? Do more of that!
Closing thoughts on parenting techniques
Okay, we’ve covered a lot of ground today. Remember that these positive parenting solutions are a work in progress, but as you use them more often, they will become second nature. You’ve got this!
Too overwhelmed? Don’t worry! That’s what I’m here for. Check out my Freedom Moms podcast for some helpful tips, or find your parenting superpowers by taking my free quiz. Also, if you’re wondering about different types of parenting and what it means to be an intentional parent, take a look at this blog post.
Crystal The Parenting Coach