I’ll be honest, I had never really heard the term “Positive Parenting” until recently. I’ve been in the parents club for 5 years now and still pretty new to the positive parenting world. Much to my disbelief, positive parenting has been a school of thought since the early 20th century, albeit known as “positive discipline” and only in recent decades has gained much popularity.
The previous generations of Indian parents have been infamous for resorting to spanking and tough discipline when it came to raising “good” children. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” as they’d say it over and over again. We’ve all heard it and most of our parents firmly believed it. It’s what they knew and like every parent, across generations, they had the best intentions.
Parenting is a challenging environment that you cannot grasp fully until you enter its world. It can leave you frustrated, guilty and feeling confused. Bedtime battles, picky eaters, tantrums over toys, sibling rivalry, the challenges of parenting will always be there, you cannot make them go away. What you can do to find your feet in this rollercoaster is control the way you react to these battles. Despite the enormous challenges and demands, every parent wants to be a great parent and positive parenting can show you how. It offers you the strategies and tools to deal with these situations with kindness, respect and plenty of love.
Positive parenting is a parenting principle that assumes children are born good and with the desire to do the right thing. It emphasizes the importance of mutual respect and using positive, caring, nurturing ways to discipline children without breaking their spirit. The positive parenting approaches focus on teaching proper future behaviour instead of punishing past misbehaviour. This way, we can raise children with a relationship built on trust and mutual respect, thus building their self-esteem. Positive parenting has often been described as an “Authoritative” parenting approach, which is a warm yet firm parenting style. Affection, responsiveness, encouragement and teaching opportunities are pillars of positive parenting.
This sounds like what every parent wants but also leaves you wondering if it is just another fad, a new-age trend and if it is effective at all. Many people assume that positive parenting means parenting without disciplining, but that’s not true. Positive parenting does involve disciplining your child but with a far more empathetic and gentle approach. Read on to find out.
Positive parenting lays great emphasis on mutual respect between parent and child. The best way to teach your child to respect others is by showing them respect. Treat them with respect as you would like to be treated. As parents being in charge of children and always wanting what’s best for them, we can often dismiss children and their feelings. But showing them respect as we would to another adult, can make them feel valued, important and thus more cooperative. Furthermore, respect can strengthen communication and the relationship between parent and child
Our children are often caught in the act while misbehaving, disobeying or not in their best moment, thus giving their misbehaviour plenty of attention, even though it may be in the form of yelling or reprimanding. Positive parenting asks us to focus on them doing something good, thereby giving attention to behaviours we want to see more of. Catch them and appreciate them sharing a toy, waiting their turn, helping you with a chore, tidying up their room or caring for a sibling. Notice the good in them and praise them appropriately and you are bound to see it happen more often. Using praise, affection, privileges and appreciation for good behaviour can work as positive reinforcement.
Positive parenting doesn’t mean there is no disciplining but suggests teaching children correct behaviour without using punishment to correct problematic behaviour. Hold off the yelling, power struggle and hostility and use empathy, creating healthy boundaries and modelling solutions and as a result, there is a shift and improvement in the parent-child dynamics and their relationship. Instead of using yelling, threats and having a power struggle, parents need to help children self-internalize when it comes to discipline, making them feel responsible and in control of their actions and the consequences that follow. Providing choices, connecting with your child before correction.
No parent thinks of themselves as the kind who’ll yell or spank or lose it with their kids. Yet, because we are human, we are bound to lose our cool and if I can be real honest, parenting hasn’t always brought out the finest sides of me. As parents, we want to build a meaningful relationship with our children, one that’s built on empathy and compassion, that lets us understand our child’s challenging behaviour before we react to it. Aren’t sure if positive parenting is for you or if it’ll work? Give it a shot, love and empathy never hurt anyone.