The term positive parenting is becoming more widespread as the practice of parenting becomes influenced by research in the new scientific field of positive psychology.
Everyone wants to be a positive parent. But what does that mean? Simply put, positive parenting behaviours are those that nurture the development of children’s core abilities.
Rather than focusing on kids’ weaknesses and deficits, positive parenting involves emphasis and loving attention on building a child’s strengths and resilience.
Positive Parenting in Action
Two of the many ways you can apply the research on positive parenting with your children are by being a positive role model and by helping them believe in themselves.
Let’s take a deeper dive into both.
5 Ways to Be a Positive Role Model
Parents influence their children in profound ways by how they live their lives and do the “right” things, even when no one else is looking. Kids learn how to solve problems and critically think about the world around them, in part, by observing their parents. Some of the key ways parents can model positive parenting behaviours are:
Manage your anger. Anger is one of the greatest blocks to forming meaningful human relationships. When adults act impulsively, yell at one another, or seek revenge, children follow suit. This kind of behaviour can lead to bullying, acting out in school, and not developing the skill of self-regulation – the ability to stop or delay an action rather than behaving impulsively.
Stop the blame game and help kids do the same! When you are about to blame someone else for a problem, stop! Think about your own role in the problem, show empathy for others, and focus on the solution rather than culpability.
Take politics out of parenting. Many of our political conversations have become divisive and unproductive. When adults make derogatory comments about others based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, gender, or political views, children think it is okay to do the same.
Admit your mistakes. Children are growing up in a world with unrealistic demands for perfection. When adults admit and learn from mistakes, open themselves to feedback, and take responsibility for their actions and decisions, children learn to do the same.
Work hard to accomplish your goals. When adults set goals and persevere to achieve them despite obstacles, they model invaluable skills to their children. As appropriate for your child’s age, don’t be afraid to show kids how you are working to overcome challenges in your own life. Be positive and hopeful.
5 Ways to Help Kids Believe in Themselves
All children have an internal compass that, when nurtured through positive parenting, enable children to believe in themselves and become successful in school and in life. Even small, everyday interactions between parents and their children have the potential to make this happen. Parents help kids believe in themselves when they:
Help kids focus on solutions rather than rescuing them from problems. Solving problems for children makes them dependent, not self-confident. Listen, encourage, and support them as they consider their own solutions.
Praise children for their efforts instead of their intelligence. Notice the small things they do, like showing courage, honesty, or caring for others, and then let them know how you appreciate those qualities about them.
Help kids learn from mistakes. Research shows that learning is enhanced when children make errors. Acknowledge that you don’t expect your children to be perfect and let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes. Help them see their mistakes as learning opportunities rather than defeats.
When children blame others, whine, or complain, turn it into an opportunity to find out what they care about! Uncover hidden convictions that can foster your child’s initiative and action in the world.
Encourage children to get back on their feet after setbacks – because you believe in them. Be a helpful guide as your children identify their challenges, reflect on their choices, arrive at decisions, adjust their strategies, and plan next steps. When you do this, you’ll be fostering your child’s resiliency.
Positive parenting is a powerful tool for growing healthy kids! When you turn these approaches to positive parenting into action, you will be confidently shaping your children’s lives today and for many years to come. Many parent educators now focus on helping parents develop the tools and techniques of positive parenting and positive discipline.
Written by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD
Published January 12, 2015