Positive parenting is more than just a smile and a cookie for your little one.
What is positive parenting?
Picture this scenario: It’s a typical Sunday morning. You proceed to wake your little one up but you’re first met with a sleepy tantrum. You finally mange to quell the whining and feed your little one his/her breakfast. Instead of eating his/her breakfast however, he/she starts throwing it on the floor. Apparently breakfast wasn’t your child’s cup of tea that day. Your little one starts screaming that he/she wants chicken nuggets for breakfast, and the screaming starts rising to a crescendo. At wits end, you shout, “Stop it! Now! You’re ruining everything! Why are you crying? No chicken nuggets! Stop being a brat!” It doesn’t help, and your child erupts into a full-fledged meltdown.
In some of the most intense moments, we lose our cool and lash out at our child. It’s when we’re out of breath, out of time, and out of solutions do our ugliest sides emerge. More often than not, we feel an acute sense of guilt and regret our actions immediately afterwards.
This is where positive parenting can help. Developed by psychiatrists Adler and Dreikurs, positive parenting is a way of thinking that underscores the importance of mutual respect and positive feedback. It is mainly concerned with improving oneself for the future instead of punishment in the moment.
3 ways you can practice positive parenting at home
1. Exercise kind, but firm discipline
Instead of shouting a hard “stop it!” at your child when he/she is misbehaving, you can tell them firmly, but kindly. Just like how we wouldn’t like someone to shout at us, our children aren’t particularly fond of being shouted at.
The next time your child is having a meltdown, firmly, but gently, tell him/her to calm down and explain the situation. Let him/her know of the consequences and set limits so that your child can anticipate what will happen if he/she doesn’t behave. This allows your child to think through his/her future actions more thoroughly before acting out.
2. Extract yourself from the situation
When the situation goes code red, check yourself before you explode at your child. Breathe out peacefully and give yourself a time-out. Yes, not your child, you. Extracting yourself from the situation gives you time to consolidate your feelings and calm yourself down before you say/do something you might potentially regret.
After you’ve had your share of quiet time, revisit the situation and talk to your child calmly about why his/her behaviour was unacceptable. Let your child know how it made you feel and calmly explain why he/she shouldn’t react in that manner again.
3. Explain how to explain
The art of explanation has taken us adults years to hone, so why not begin teaching it to your child while they’re young? If your child is screaming and throwing a tantrum, chances are they feel frustrated and aren’t able to healthily control their emotions.
Coaxing your child to explain his/her emotions is a healthy way to get them in touch with their feelings. Start with asking the big WHY. Why is he/she feeling that way? Lead them to answer with, “I feel this way because…” Prompting them with questions helps them reign in their feelings and develops their communication skills. This way, your child will help you to understand his triggers and pain points, and you will be able to figure out what to do.
Putting the 2 ‘p’s in ‘supportive’: Positive parenting
Being a supportive parent goes beyond attending every swim meet or football game. While these actions are still important to show your child love and care, positive parenting encompasses firmness, discipline, and negotiation.
At the end of the day, practicing positive parenting is all about being supportive – supportive of your child’s growth, well-being, and mental health. With patience and effort, we can help our kids grow into their best selves.