Positive Parenting

Positive parenting ... is it like positive thinking? Does it mean we always look on the bright side of things or take a Pollyanna-ish view? Not at all.

There are three important elements of this style of parenting and while it does involve a change in thinking and behavior, it does not mean we must view the world through rose-colored glasses. In fact, it actually requires parents to be more practical.

Following are three essential positive parenting tips:

  • Recognize that children are children. While this may seem obvious, many parents treat their children like they are miniature adults, expecting them to behave appropriately in a wide variety of social settings and acting dismayed and offended when they don't.

    Positive parenting recognizes that kids are learning—they're learning how to get their needs met in a positive way, how to express their feelings and how to get along with others. Social training of this kind takes decades. When we remind ourselves that children are just learning, we can teach them what they need to know to behave appropriately. When we expect them to behave like grownups, we push them away when they need us most.

  • An adult who practices positive parenting cultivates an awareness of her children's needs. Remember that children act out their unmet needs. This means that the reason for inappropriate behavior isn't always obvious (and it usually isn't "bad").

    Consider the following scenario: you're at the mall and your child wants a toy. You tell him that he cannot have it. He stamps his feet, pouts and starts to throw a tantrum. Most parents will assume that the child is throwing a tantrum because he didn't get the toy, but the real reason may be deeper and point to an unmet need. For example, your child may be hungry, tired or overwhelmed by all the lights, sounds, people and brightly colored things at the mall. He may be weary of being dragged around on errands. He may need some cuddling. He may need to let out some pent up energy and run around. In this case, your refusal to buy him the toy acted as a trigger for expression of his unmet needs. Remember that children do not have the language or sophistication to tell us what they need, except through their behavior. Even adults aren't always able to positively and clearly articulate their needs.

  • Practicing positive parenting means that you recognize your limits and own your triggers. Sometimes, you may not feel you have the strength to respond to a child who is having a meltdown. If you have a partner, he or she can step in while you take five minutes to collect and center yourself. If you are a single parent or a divorcee, be proactive and find a friend, neighbor or relative who can give you some relief during these times.

If you would like to learn how to practice these strategies and improve your relationship with your child, consider taking our online parenting class .

About the author:

Laura Ramirez is the author of Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting . This award-winning book is the only parenting book that combines ancient native ideas (like stewardship) with heart-centered psychology to show parents how to raise children to develop their natural strengths and stay aligned with their spiritual nature. This book turns parenting into a journey of discovery for parent and child. It will open your heart and teach you how to create a beautiful relationship with your child.

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