What Is Positive Parenting Anyways?

Jan 02, 2021

Positive. Intentional. Connection. Attachment-based. Natural.


There are so many different names for what “positive parenting” is… it’s gaining more and more popularity as myriads of child experts are jumping on board and finding research to back its efficacy.


This is how I explain it to my clients:


I envision it as a spectrum, or continuum. Imagine a line. On one end of the line we have...


Fear-based parenting.


This includes things such as: rewards, punishments, spanking, time-outs, grounding. This does usually work short term, but over the long term you may see that you have to “up the ante” again and again, to get the same results. You likely won't see behaviours improve in a significant way, in fact, they may worsen over time.


This also systematically breaks down the relationship with our children. If they only obey because they are scared of the consequences or motivated by the reward, they won't be led to a lasting positive connection with you. It’s not a relationship-centered way to parent.  


The reason it works so well in the short-term is because it uses our children's basic human fears against them. Each one of the authoritarian parenting tactics goes against a basic human need: belonging, intimacy, close-ness etc.


As soon as I teach my clients that there is another way to go about parenting, they hear “permissive parenting”, which is NOT the same thing. In fact, it’s on the opposite end of the continuum.


Let's go back to our line: on the far end we have...




This looks like being “friends” with your kids, having no expectations or boundaries, little to no teaching/guidance etc. The problem with this way of parenting is that our children don’t feel safe and secure in this relationship, instead of parent-child it’s more of an equal partner. That doesn't leave them feeling physically or emotionally cared for. 


Our brain likes to offer that these are the only 2 ways to parent. BUT... There is another way.


Enter: positive parenting.


Positive parenting fits in the middle of our line. I think of it as “firm-love”, clear boundaries, high communication and relationship-focussed.


I was once at a parenting course with Gordon Neufeld where he told us to “be firm in your no’s and generous with your yes's”. Saying yes to them when you can, and sticking to your clear boundaries when needed.


This also means spending time connecting with each child, apologizing when you do them wrong, and helping them to feel secure and held in your care.


Over time their negative behaviour will decrease, they will listen more, and your home will be filled with periods of more peace and calm. This happens when you focus on relationships more than anything else.


It can be a big shift to make, but small steps over time will make huge changes. Keep at it. <3


 Changes happen first within US, not them. <3


Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child
Cover image for the parenting personality quiz, 4 sketches of a mom doing a different activity with her child

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