The days of “because I said so”, “that’s just how it is”, and “because I’m your parent” are gone. Perhaps for the better, a lot of us would say. Authoritarian parenting has been replaced by positive parenting, an approach based on mutual respect between parents and children. This type of parenting means we treat our children as people, not things. Just because we created them doesn’t mean they are our property. Our children are human beings who can think, feel, process, and make their own judgments. It sounds obvious, but it’s interesting how often we miss it!
Kids learn by imitating. They will learn how to communicate if we model suitable means of communication and coping with conflict. It is the innate tendency of human beings to question, ponder, and explore, and children make this tendency self-evident. Thus, we are responsible for helping them learn and understand their surroundings.
Below are some more details about positive parenting and its many benefits.
Seeing Eye to Eye
We all want to “see eye to eye” with our children. Begin by taking this concept literally and actually getting down to their eye level. You are showing respect and sincerity when you talk to your kid at their physical level. It’s also an effective tool to get them to really listen.
Explain Reasons for Discipline
When we are punishing our children for something, they need to know why what they did was wrong. Otherwise, you’re instilling a sense of futility in them. They are not learning from their mistakes, but trying to avoid punishment. Children need to understand what consequences their (mis)behavior has had.
Make your Expectations Clear
If we want our children to be successful in life, they need to know what is expected of them and what actions we want them to take. Of course, they also need to know why. Instead of saying “tidy your room”, say “put away your toys.” “Tidy” is too broad a notion. Young children, in particular, have trouble reading between the lines. They need simple and clear instructions.
If you think they might not have understood something, ask them to repeat what you just said. It’s also a great way to see if they were listening and to get them to listen more. Or ask questions that are a variation on what you previously said, such as “What did I tell you to put away just now?”
Teach Using Positive Examples
By this we mean: don’t start imperative sentences with “don’t”. Tell them what they should do, not what they shouldn’t. It may take some time to learn to avoid “don’t”; after all, we heard them all the time from adults when we were kids. However, imperative sentences that are phrased this way help children process your instructions better. Instead of saying, “Don’t stand on your chair” say “We sit in chairs”. Then, proceed to explain that they risk falling and hurting themselves when they’re standing on a chair rather than sitting in it.
An interesting fact is that the human mind is wired to ignore the “don’t” at the beginning of a sentence. So when you say, “Don’t stand” the child hears “stand”.
Positive parenting takes great effort, so it’s ok to admit you’re tired now and then. Sometimes, children’s unruly behavior is just exhausting to us. If you feel you’ll about to “lose it” and start screaming at them, you need to take a time out. Giving in to your urge is setting a bad example. You don’t want your child to get angry and start screaming when something isn’t going their way. The happiest and most successful people are able to control themselves and always remain respectful, and these abilities are developed in childhood.
If you are upset, tell them you need some time alone and leave the room. This will also give you more time and space to figure out how to handle the problem you’re having. When you come back, you’ll be calmer and ready to tackle the issue once again.
Turn Mishaps into Learning Opportunities
Every incidence of misbehavior can be transformed into a learning opportunity as long as your child is older than four. For example, what is the lesson of touching the stove? It means the child has burned themselves and feels pain.
If they were curious about what would happen, they should have asked why something was cooking or boiling on the stovetop. You would have told them something was cooking because the stove is hot and shouldn’t be touched.
If they broke a toy because they didn’t like it or didn’t want to play with it anymore, they should have given it to a friend. Explaining this will encourage them to think and speak before acting, which is a crucial skill to have.