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A Comprehensive Guide to Positive Parenting: Plus 7 Proven Methods

Your child is yelling. They don’t want to eat lunch – “it’s yucky!” Even though they ate the same thing yesterday and cleaned their plate! They even told you it was yummy and danced while eating it. You’re trying to tell yourself to relax, but they wouldn’t put on their clothes earlier, or pick up their toys when you told them time and again – and now this?


“What happened to my kind kiddo?” You begin to wonder. Yesterday their attitude was cheerful and friendly, but today they’ve made a complete 180.


You’re already stressed out with work…

The house is a mess…

Your child won’t stop whining and yelling at you, and then…


“STOP YELLING! JUST EAT YOUR FOOD!”


You’ve yelled at them. Something you’ve been trying not to do – but you were at your wits’ end. And the irony dawns on you: you yelled at your kid to stop yelling. Now the parent guilt is seeping in.


Friend, I’ve been there too. My clients have been there too. We all have. You’re not alone, and you’re not a bad parent. But there is a solution to this seemingly endless cycle of overwhelm and lashing out – positive parenting.


Today I’ll help you understand what positive parenting is and give you the toolbox you need to constructively transform your family dynamic.


What Is Positive Parenting?


It’s a common misconception that positive parenting means you’re overly lenient with your child and don’t let them face the consequences of their actions. That’s not positive parenting – that’s permissive parenting.


Permissive parenting is when you’re overly responsive to your child while demanding little from them.


Positive parenting is based on strategic parenting methods that enhance your relationship with your child while you work towards helping them develop self-discipline.


Positive parenting offers a positive solution to avoid developing fear in your child. This technique is based on a positive psychological approach that promotes good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior. It fortifies the idea that there are no “good” and “bad” children. Instead, positive parenting recognizes that each child is unique, and has unique needs.


Why Is Positive Parenting So Powerful?


Positive parenting focuses on discipline, which involves teaching and not punishing. Promoting positive connections with your child can diffuse their fear and encourage learning. When your child feels seen, soothed, secure, and connected to you, they'll grow a larger understanding of right and wrong. This cultivates better behavior.


Here's why it's essential to ensure your child is seen, soothed, and secure:


  • When your child is seen, their connection to you will enhance. Whenever they face a problem, they’ll seek you for help because they know you will have their back and be honest with them. This will allow your little one to understand their emotions and learn how those emotions affect their behaviors. But to do this, they need a sense of security and to know you love them.

  • When your child is soothed, they learn you’re present with them – even when they’re not behaving. As a child, they don’t know how to properly regulate their emotions because their “logic brain” is not integrated with their “emotion brain.” This means your child will not be able to learn anything until they’re fully calm. Once they’re calm, teach your child by telling a story that connects to their emotional outburst while still staying firm on the set boundary. This will allow your kiddo to learn that rules are rules, and even though they’ve behaved poorly, you still love them and will guide them.

  • When your child is secure, they’re able to embrace their emotions and understand themselves more. This helps them understand the feelings and intentions of others. This understanding allows your child to build interpersonal skills, cultivate a sense of security, and increase their independence because they know you love them and will protect them.


When done correctly, positive parenting has been shown to: 1

  • Lower childhood depression

  • Boost social, emotional, and cognitive skills

  • Promote personal development

  • Limit negative behavior

  • Help children understand and regulate their emotions

  • Improve self-esteem, creativity, independence, and intrinsic motivation

  • Enhance academic performance


Research has proven positive parenting actually works and helps your child in the moment and in the future.


7 Top Positive Parenting Techniques


When you practice positive parenting, you should always make your expectations clear to your child. They are individuals, and you have to treat them as such. Make sure you’re consistent and reliable with the boundaries you set in place.


Your child will do as you DO, not as you say. Show them affection and appreciation – after all, as provoking as they can get, they’re still the light of your life. 😉 Aim to understand your child and encourage their independence, curiosity, and personal development. Here’s how to do just that:


1. Set boundaries

Boundaries are crucial to ensure everyone’s needs are met – including yours. If your child constantly wants ice cream before dinner’s made, but you want them to eat dinner first, make it a rule and stick to it.


If your child rushes you out of your baths to play with them, make it a rule to give you 15 minutes in the tub. Once your bath is complete, you can play with them. This will help your child see that you have needs of your own.


This sounds like... "I hear that you're very sad that mommy can't play right now. I know it's hard to have to wait. It's ok to feel sad! I'm going to enjoy my bath for 15 more minutes. Let's set a timer and as soon as that goes off, we can play a game! What would you like to play?"


By respecting your needs and your child’s emotions, you’ll be a much happier, more balanced parent. This also teaches your child how to respect their needs and the needs of others in a relationship.


2. Discipline means "TO TEACH" – TEACH (don’t punish)

By disciplining your child, you’re teaching them what’s right from wrong. You’re explaining what they did wrong and how they can react appropriately in the future – you’re encouraging them to be competent.


Punishing means inflicting a penalty for something they did wrong. By doing this, you’re shaming and blaming your child and instilling pain as punishment which only promotes fear. You don’t want your child to fear you (or punishment) – you want them to connect their actions with consequences and learn appropriate coping strategies for managing their emotions and the realities of life.


Teaching your child shows them how to behave in the short-term and long-term, unlike punishment which only works in the short-term and builds negative behavioral patterns.


This sounds like... "I can see you're very angry because you had to share. Feelings angry is OK - but hitting is not. I'm going to move your brother over here so he can stay safe... and I'm going to sit here with you until this big emotion passes. Would you like to take a few deep breaths or stretch your body to help let this emotion pass?"


3. Say NO to "shaming"

There’s always a reason behind your child’s behavior, especially when they throw a tantrum or behave poorly. That yelling they did over their lunch earlier? That was most likely because they didn’t know what they were feeling or how to handle it. So instead, they let out a cry for attention or a power play to assert their independence.


Try not to react, and instead take a moment to figure out why they’re feeling this way. This will help you find empathy for your child and come to them from a place of kindness.


Avoid shaming them. This threatens their self-worth and makes them think they’re bad, which causes long-term damage and dangerous behaviors. By drawing a positive connection to their emotions, they can realize what their emotion is and know that it’s not who they are.


With the lunch problem earlier, avoid telling them, “You’re a big kid. Stop crying and eat your food!” or “Why don’t you ever listen? It’s really not that hard!” By shaming your child, they will genuinely believe that they’re bad. Then they will behave that way even more.


This sounds like... “I see that you’re very upset about having this lunch again – it must be hard having to eat something you’re not craving. Come here, can we hug? Let’s take a break together and breathe. After we breathe, we’ll finish our lunch together, and you can pick what we’re having for dinner. You can even help me make it if you want.”


By responding with empathy, validating their emotions, and coming to a solution, your child can feel secure in your love for them and be reminded about the rules.


4. Connect consequences with the crime

When teaching your child about consequences, make sure you aren’t punishing them. Like Zig Ziglar said, “Punishment is what you DO to someone; discipline is what you do FOR someone.” So, teach them a consequence that correlates directly to their actions to avoid confusion.


If your child won’t clean up their toys because they won’t let go of their tablet or stop watching the TV, then take away screen privileges for a limited time. The next time they have to pick up their toys while watching TV, they’ll be more attentive and follow directions.


This sounds like... “It looks like you're having a hard time putting your toys away. We are all done with the tablet/TV for tonight. We can try this again tomorrow.”


Sometimes there isn’t a short-term consequence. In these cases, you can explain things to them. If they don’t clean up their toys, they can get lost, or someone can step on them and get very hurt – it’s dangerous. If they still don’t clean it up, take a deep breath to remove any anger and frustration. Let them know that if you step on a toy, then you will clean it up and put it away where they will no longer play with it anymore instead of back in the playroom.


5. Play up the positive!

It’s easy to forget to comment on your child’s good behavior and only comment on their bad behavior. Did your child clean up their playroom without you having to tell them? Make sure you give them attention and let them know they’re seen.


By using positive reinforcements, your child will develop and maintain a positive self-identity.


This sounds like... “Wow, I noticed you cleaned up your playroom all by yourself, great work! That shows responsibility and self-discipline. How does that make you feel to be such a good helper”


If you want your child to be respectful, you have to be respectful, especially towards them. Remember, they do what you do, not what you say. If you want them to use manners like “please” and “thank you” then use manners towards them too. If you want them to give you space while you’re doing something important, then make sure you wait until they’re at a stopping point while watching TV, playing a game, or playing with toys before asking them to do something else. If you want them to stop yelling, you have to stop yelling. Set the example you want to see in your child.


6. Choose a "Time-in" instead of "time-out"

Not many people know about this one, and it’s not as easy as it seems. Time-ins are when you spend the time they would’ve been in time-out with them. This will bring you closer and improve your child's trust in you. More importantly, it avoids the long-term problem with connecting 'big emotions' to isolation and rejection (aka a time out).


During time-in, you spend that time explaining to them:

  • Why they’re in time-in – what bad behavior caused this

  • How they can better react next time (coping strategies)

  • Why they need to respect the boundary and what it is

  • You love them, see them, and are here for them when they’re ready

Though you may have to stand there and wait for your child’s tantrum to subside, they’ll know you’re there for them, no matter what. Time-ins get easier with practice, unlike time-outs. Time-outs send your child the message that you can’t deal with their behavior. This pushes your child farther away from you and can make them feel isolated and unwanted – it tells them you don’t want to see their angry, loud side.


7. Pause + Breath – RESPOND instead of react

Yes, you read that right. Take a deep breath and walk away for a minute or two if you feel yourself getting too heated in the moment. Once you realize you cannot control your children but can control your reactions, it becomes easier not to overreact towards them.


Your little one is a mini version of you. Except your “mini-me” doesn’t have the toolbox of life yet – the one you gained through all your years of experience. Their world is still black and white, so when something goes wrong, even the slightest thing, it can cause them spinning in distress.