Positive parenting can seem very abstract. What is it? How do you do it? And furthermore, how can positive parenting encourage personal development in kids?
It makes total sense that parents everywhere are tired of losing their tempers and want to practice positive parenting, but don’t know the how or the why. I totally get it.
Why is it important to practice positive parenting? What are the benefits for your kids?
This is especially tough to answer if you weren’t raised by parents whose parenting style fell into the “positive parenting” category.
We will take a look at a few basic principles of positive parenting and how it will be beneficial to your child’s personal development.
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What is Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting a highly effective parenting style that is based on forming a respectful relationship with your child. It is similar to authoritative parenting style, but does have some differences.
Its main question is what can I do to create the most positive outcomes for myself and my child in all situations?
Positive parenting doesn’t lack consequences and it does not mean you are passive in your parenting. Those are a couple of misconceptions that many people have.
Instead of coming up with consequences or punishment for “bad behavior”, positive parenting is built around a positive approach, including communicating with your child and understanding their current struggle, while also understanding (and helping them understand) that natural consequences may stem from the situation at hand.
For example, one afternoon my middle son took something away from my toddler son.
We asked him to give the item back to the toddler and before we knew it, a metal straw had been angrily thrown at our large television in the living room and busted the screen.
Unfixable. $800 to replace.
We didn’t really have a chance to sportscast feelings because everything escalated so quickly, but in an ideal world, we would have done that.
There was no upheaval about the television.
The natural consequence was that the next time he asked to watch something, he couldn’t.
And man, did that lesson stink.
No punishment. No big to-do. No shaming.
Most importantly, no damaging our child’s self-esteem.
Just a real-life, really expensive example of why we need to work on coping skills for anger.
Positive parenting hones in on the emotional development of your child and celebrates positive action and positive reinforcement rather than reactive parenting and harsh punishment, which have a very negative impact on child development.
Here is a comprehensive list from an article on positivepsyschology.com, of what positive parenting approaches include:
>> It involves Guiding
>> It involves Leading
>> It involves Teaching
>> It is Caring
>> It is Empowering
>> It is Nurturing
>> It is Sensitive to the Child’s Needs
>> It is Consistent
>> It is Always Non-violent
>> It provides Regular Open Communication
>> It provides Affection
>> It provides Emotional Security
>> It provides Emotional Warmth
>> It provides Unconditional Love
>> It recognizes the Positive
>> It respects the Child’s Developmental Stage
>> It rewards Accomplishments
>> It sets Boundaries
>> It shows Empathy for the Child’s Feelings
>> It supports the Child’s Best Interests “
That list may seem overwhelming, but there are likely many of those things you already do naturally.
3 Benefits of Positive Parenting
There are many, many benefits of positive parenting. Here are just a few of them:
1 | Positive parenting improves the parent-child relationship.
Positive parenting is based on mutual respect, which is vital to healthy relationships. Positive parenting will vastly improve your relationship with your child, because it opens up opportunities for healthy conversations and interactions.
Children want to be heard, seen, validated and loved, just like adults do. Likewise, we look for those qualities in spouses and good friends.
Our children need the same out of us.
When parents can provide warmth, acceptance, encouragement and respect through positive parenting, the parent-child relationship will thrive.
With open and respectful communication, your child will come to you more often with concerns and questions.
This should be nurtured at a young age, so it carries into their teenage years when they seek even more guidance in real-world and adult decision-making.
2 | Positive parenting snuffs out the power struggle.
If you have ever been in a power struggle with your child, you know how frustrating it is for the both of you.
Converting to a positive parenting style can help decrease power struggles.
Positive parents don’t see good behavior vs. bad behavior in children. They see a child who is struggling and figure out a way to have a positive outcome.
Let’s take a look at how it’s possible to snuff out a power struggle with positive pareneing:
1 | When you practice positive parenting, boundaries are huge. You state your boundary or expectation and stick with it.
2 | With those boundaries come empathy, staying calm, and validation for your child. Kids will push boundaries. It’s in their nature. That’s okay.
3 | When you combine all of the above with consistency, power struggles cease to exist.
Parenting scenario on how power struggles literally get snuffed out:
A.) You present your boundary.
Parent: “The dishwasher needs to be emptied before you play on your tablet/phone/video game.”
Child: “But Mooooooom!”
HERE IS THE FORK IN THE ROAD.
You can let this fester, get offended, blow your top and dole out consequences that make no sense.
Then your child will storm off angry and upset, without ever touching the dishwasher.
OR YOU CAN:
B.) Create an empathetic and nurturing atmosphere for your child.
Parent: “It’s hard to wait on things that are fun when there is a chore to be done. Feeling frustrated/bummed/disappointed is normal.”
BOOM! Your child feels heard and feelings are validated.
C. You stay consistent. (very important)
Child: “I AM frustrated! I’m not doing dishes! You’re torturing me!”
Parent: “It’s okay to feel that way, but chores still have to get done. There won’t be screens until the dishwasher is unloaded, so get ‘er done.”
End of story. You don’t need to dwell on it. You have stated your boundary/expectation and stuck to it.
When you continually show up as the calm authority figure in each situation, your child learns that you are the dependable leader they need.
If you have had power struggles for a long time, it may take some practice and time to stop them in their tracks, but it is totally doable.
3 | Positive parenting builds self-confidence in your child.
Another huge benefit of positive parenting is that it builds self-confidence in your child.
Self-confidence is one of the most important traits a person can have. It allows you to face challenges head-on, and it helps you believe in yourself when things get tough.
Unfortunately, not everyone is born with self-confidence. This can be a problem for children, who need it to succeed in life.
Here are 3 confidence-building tips you can accomplish positive parenting:
1 | Set up a positive environment where your child feels safe and secure.
Remember, this is a key part of positive parenting.
Avoiding nagging, blaming and other negativity is imperative to having a positive environment for your child.
Nagging and blaming will quickly diminish anyone’s self-confidence, especially a child’s.
2 | Celebrate accomplishments.
As a child, nothing feels better than when your parents recognize the things you have done well!
A high-five or “You must be so proud!” will go a long way!
3 | Recognize and respect your child’s developmental stage.
One of the most helpful things you can do in your journey to positive parenting is to research child development stages.
It helps immensely to know what you should expect from your child.
Once you have more insight into the child development stages, you need to commit to respecting your child’s developmental stage, even if he or she isn’t doing things you see other children doing.
For example, if a child isn’t using words in the correct context, constant correction will not help self-confidence.
Constant correction is actually counter-productive and leads to a child simply shutting down and not responding to any feedback.
In the above example, it’s important to realize that kids won’t pronounce all words correctly, not even adults can!
Self-confidence is imperative to a child’s personal development and can be harnessed through consistent positive parenting.
So, How Does Positive Parenting Encourage Personal Development?
1 | Positive parenting encourages your child to be kind and compassionate.
A key trait for personal growth in your child is kindness and compassion. This is literally the basis for life, and for positive parenting as well.
Positive parenting is built on respect, which our kids can then practice in their own world.
The best way to help your child be kind and compassionate is to model these behaviors yourself. In return, your child will likely learn the same behaviors.
One way to encourage kindness and compassion is by showing your kids how they should treat others when they are angry or upset.
This is also one of the toughest positive parenting skills.
If your child is screaming or yelling at someone, sportscasting his or her feelings will give validation.
You might say something like “You’re frustrated and angry. It’s not okay to scream and yell. When you’re ready, I’ll help you find another way to handle this.”
You can then help your child find a way to express those feelings in a healthy way.
This could include going to his or her own room to scream (in a pillow works great!), writing down his thoughts in a journal, drawing a picture or talking to someone he trusts about what is going on.
Remember, these are skills you are practicing and they won’t be perfect overnight.
Modeling how to be kind and caring towards others will help your child do the same. They can then develop positive relationships with others and boost their self-esteem, and both are essential for a meaningful life.
2 | Positive parenting teaches excellent communication skills.
Positive parenting is built around communication. This is something that is extremely vital for personal development in kids.
Communication is the basic building block of all relationships.
If our kids know they can talk to us about their problems without being shamed, they will be able to listen to their friends, future spouses and future kids in the same way.
Communication with our kids using positive parenting also sets them for problem-solving skills that they will take into their relationships. This is a huge deal.
When we communicate respectfully with our kids, including giving them our undivided attention during communication, we are showing them that we value them. We are showing them they are worth our time and attention.
In return, this will trickle down into their relationships, and help with their interactions for the rest of their lives.
3 | Positive parenting promotes a secure attachment.
A child’s attachment to his or her parents is one of the most important aspects of their development.
This is one of the most basic principles of parenting, in general– making sure your children feel secure.
A secure attachment allows children to feel safe and loved, which helps them grow into confident and successful adults.
Secure attachments also help children learn how to regulate their emotions because they’ve had positive experiences feeling loved unconditionally without fear of punishment if they get upset about something.
When your child is distressed, he or she can turn to you for comfort and safety, if there is a secure attachment.
Mentally and emotionally, a secure attachment is essential to a healthy and happy life for your child.
If you, the parent, were not raised with a secure attachment yourself, it’s important to sort through your own feelings and realizations of how that impacts your parenting.
A book that’s highly rated by therapists for adults who had emotionally distant parents, is:
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents.
It’s a great place to start if you’re wanting to improve in that area of parenting.
4 | Positive parenting models taking responsibility for one’s actions.
One of the most important things you can do for your child is teach them how to be responsible and accountable for their actions.
This is one of those life skills that pertains to every facet of life.
Whether it’s cleaning up their toys or apologizing for something they did wrong, modeling these things for your child will teach them to take responsibility for their actions and will help them develop into responsible adults.
Here are 3 ways to set up your child for responsibility:
1 | Give your child opportunities to make decisions on his or her own.
Sometimes letting go of control is hard for parents, but can be very empowering for kids.
When there are choices to be made, give your child a chance to make the decision on his or her own.
For example, if you have a preschooler who loves picking out which outfit he will wear each day then give him this opportunity as often as possible.
2 | Allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them without being punished or scolded.
Allowing your child to make mistakes can feel scary or unnerving, but it really helps your child develop and grow.
You can start by talking (age appropriately) to them about the importance of being responsible and accountable for their own choices in life, as well as natural consequences that come from making mistakes.
It’s also important for kids to know that mistakes are normal and part of life. Even adults make mistakes.
For example, if your child wants to spend all of his money on a remote control car, instead of saving part of it for a later purchase, talk to him about that choice, but allow him to make the final decision.
The natural consequence is not having money for a later purchase, which may take a while to learn but will make a bigger impact than you directing your child on what decision to make.
When you give your child opportunities to make mistakes it will show them they can make choices on their own, and that is extremely important for personal growth.
3 | Encourage your child to set goals and work toward achieving them.
Encouraging goal setting is vital for personal development in children.
You may want to start with small things like making sure he washes his hands before dinner every night or spending 20 minutes per day practicing piano.
Make sure to assist your child in setting realistic and attainable goals so he can get a taste of success.
In other words, setting a goal for your 5-year-old to read for an hour every day might not be a realistic or age-appropriate goal, but 5-10 minutes per day is.
Make sure you are of what your child isis capable of achieving. Definitely don’t sell them short, but don’t set them up for failure either.
5| Positive parenting promotes a positive outlook on life in general.
One of the most important things you can do for your child is encourage them to have a positive attitude and outlook on life. And positive parenting can help with that.
Here are 3 tips on how to use positive parenting to encourage your child to stay positive:
1. Lead by example.
Kids learn best by watching what you do, not what you say. If you want your child to be positive, you need to be positive yourself.
When you practice positive parenting, you show your kids that you can keep a positive outlook, no matter the situation.
2. Encourage them when they make progress.
Nobody is perfect, and kids are no exception! When your child makes an effort to be positive, celebrate them for it. This will help motivate them to keep trying.
3. Don’t criticize or shame your child when he or she isn’t positive.
Instead, communicate with your child about strong negative emotions and help your child to cope when something isn’t going well for them.
When children feel positive, they will be more likely to take action towards achieving their goals, which fosters personal development.
Helping your child own a positive mindset is one of the best things you can do for them.
6 | Positive parenting allows your child to take risks and learn new things.
One of the best ways for children to grow is to learn new things and take risks, and that can only happen when parents set the stage for empowering and teaching kids.
Learning new things might include anything from learning a new language to learning how to play a new instrument.
Encouraging your child to learn new things will not only help them grow and develop, but it will also keep their mind active and engaged.
Risk-taking doesn’t mean encouraging them to do dangerous things, but rather helping them find safe and positive ways to explore new things.
Encouraging your child to take risks will help them learn about themselves and the world around them
Risk-taking might include trying out for the baseball team, or for younger kids, something as simple as asking another child at the park to play with them.
We can gently empower and teach our children that risk-taking and learning new things don’t have to be intimidating, but rather life lessons.
If our children fail when trying new things, or taking risks, they will have a soft place to land when we empathy and compassion in our positive parenting.
7 | Positive parenting encourages your child to be him or herself.
The best thing about positive parenting is that it encourages your child to be himself.
There is no shaming, no manipulating and no nagging your child to be something or someone they aren’t.
Helping your child feel comfortable with who they are will help them develop positive self-esteem and a healthy sense of self-worth.
In return, your child is free to pursue their interests and develop their talents, as they grow into strong and successful adults.
Personal development is an important part of growing up, and it should be nurtured from a young age.
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Final Thoughts on How Positive Parenting Encourages Personal Development
Positive parenting takes being intentional with your kids and patient with the results. The first time you decide to address a situation through the lens of positive parenting, it may feel a little awkward.
Results don’t happen overnight, but the more consistent you are, the more you will see break-throughs in your relationship with your child. You will notice their personal growth changing by leaps and bounds
Behavior will change, relationships will change, your home will become more peaceful and your lives will be changed.