Your first reaction to the title of this post might be dread. Is this yet another new trend in the world of helicopter parents and participation trophies? Fortunately, “positive parenting” is all about finding the ideal blend of empowering children while holding them to helpful standards. This approach has a stellar track record and is only gaining in popularity.
We’ll go into more depth below, but by way of introduction, it’s best to view positive parenting as a way to focus on your child’s strengths. It can feel natural to fixate on a child’s shortcomings and aim to eliminate them. However, it’s been shown that a positive focus is far more effective.
Why Do We Typically Focus on the Negative?
It is believed that humans are hardwired with negativity bias. As a method of survival, we pay closer attention to threats, risks, and bad events. There are times when this instinct can protect us. More often, in modern society, we end up ruminating over insults, memories, and negative experiences.
This can play a role in our desire to “fix” our kids. Fortunately, with practice, negativity bias can be overridden and thus, you are better able to aim your focus on your child’s unique gifts and strong points.
How to Positively Parent
It begins with defining and identifying your child’s strengths. That means more than what they do well. But also, do they do something well often and with joy? The “something” can be a particular skill. Just as often, however, it’ll be a characteristic like compassion, courage, humor, or curiosity.
Emphasizing and rewarding such positive talents and attributes encourages them to continue. They’re inspired to put in the work to improve productively. Some tips:
Be a Role Model
Be sure that your child gets to witness you focusing on your positive traits. They’re always watching, so it’s vital that you practice healthy coping skills, regulate your emotions, and play up your strengths. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed, take note. Your energy very much helps to shape your children’s perspectives, so catch yourself before your mood escalates.
Pay Close Attention
Learn to recognize your children’s tendencies. Never let good behavior go unrecognized. When they do well, give them praise. This not only reinforces the positive behavior but also lets them know you care deeply about all they do. Also, the better you know them, the easier it is to see potentially bad behavior brewing. You can preempt it and redirect their energies.
Kids of all ages are a bundle of confusing emotions without the cognitive skills to fully explain what’s going on. They deserve our patience and understanding. Talk to them about their challenges and let them know you’re available to talk.
Set and Enforce Boundaries
Every home needs rules, but they should not be arbitrary or mysterious. Explain the rules to your children in a way that emphasizes how positive behavior is encouraged and rewarded.
Resist the urge to punish your child if you don’t understand the underlying causes of their transgressions. Work to find the factor at play and take steps to reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses.
The Benefits of Positive Parenting
Studies have found outcomes like:
- Better cognition
- Stronger physical health
- Reduction of disruptive behaviors
- Better school performance
- Greater emotional regulation
- Faster development of language skills
- Less aggression and hyperactivity
- Healthier coping mechanisms
Positive parenting is not about strictly following a preplanned blueprint. Rather, you can adapt this concept to the specifics of you and your children. To learn more, I invite you to get in touch for a conversation for child or family therapy. Let’s talk about the possibilities!