Being a positive parent sounds good on paper. Does it work in reality? It does if you’re equipped with practical tools to guide your interactions with your children.
The following course review is great for a total parenting package but let’s get you started with seven tips for building parent-child relationships on both good days and bad ones.
#1 Present Choices in One of Two Ways
Most of the time, when you give your child choices, you should offer two options, either one of which is equally acceptable to you. For example, tell your child that he can wear sneakers or sandals. If you don’t want him wearing boots, don’t present it as an option.
However, there may be times when the choices you offer shouldn’t be equal. They still must both be acceptable to you, but while one option–the one that you hope he’ll choose–will appeal to the child, the other won’t. This positive parenting idea gives him the freedom to make the right choice without feeling that he had to relinquish control to you.
#2 Build Positive Relationships with PRIDE Play
Playing with your child is an excellent opportunity to deepen your relationship. As you play, keep in mind the PRIDE acronym from Sheila Eyberg:
- P is for Praise Appropriate Behavior. Observe the things that your child does correctly and praise her for them.
- R is for Reflect Appropriate Talk. Repeat your child’s comments back to him with only minimal modifications. Refrain from asking questions.
- I is for Imitate Appropriate Play. Follow your child’s lead during playtime.
- D is for Describe Appropriate Play. Offer objective commentary on what your child is doing.
- E is for Enthusiasm. Give excited and supportive comments in response to your child’s actions.
For children seven and younger, PRIDE should be used during a specific 5- to 15-minute playtime. It can be incorporated more naturally for older children.
#3 Offer Calming Tools
Sometimes, kids need to calm down. You’ve probably noticed that snapping, “Stop crying!” doesn’t actually work. Instead, empower your child with tools that can help her self-regulate.
- Glitter Jars: Kids can shake the jars and watch the swirling glitter.
- Squeeze Balls: Children can knead the balls to help channel frustration.
- Pinwheel: Blowing a pinwheel helps calm kids through deep breathing.
#4 Empathize with Your Children
Instead of trying to raise always-happy children, let them experience a range of emotions. Sometimes life is rough, and kids don’t need you to try to fix everything for them. They do need you to show empathy.
This requires keeping your own emotions in check when your kids are worked up. In so doing, you can be emotionally present for them, and you can model appropriate responses to tough situations.
Empathizing with your children gives you an opportunity to help them recognize and identify their emotions so they can become emotionally literate individuals.
#5 Take a Parental Time-out
Some days, it can feel like your children are getting the better of you. When that happens, instead of lashing out with yelling, take a parental time out.
Remove yourself from where your children are. If that’s not an option, face the opposite direction.
Take time to breathe slowly. Wiggle your hands to help channel your aggression. Regroup by splashing your face with water. It’s even okay to cry if you need to.
You’ll find this and other ideas for reducing yelling in your home in this 10-step plan from Dr. Laura Markham.
#6 Ask Yourself After the Fact
After a trying moment has passed, you can evaluate how you did so you can learn from the experience. Ask yourself:
- Did my actions and words build my child up? Even in discipline, you can encourage your child’s self-esteem.
- Did I encourage my child to make the right choice out of love, or did I try to motivate through fear? Love is always the better choice.
#7 Apologize When You Mess Up
As hard as you try to be a positive parent, there are going to be times when you lose your cool.
Redeem the situation with a true apology. A genuine apology does these three things:
- Models listening to your conscience.
- Deepens your relationship with your child.
- Gives kids the opportunity to choose forgiveness.
Positive Parenting Done Right
Raising kids is never easy, but positive parenting helps you do it in a way that you can feel good about. Implementing these seven ideas will help you become closer to your children while guiding them toward maturity. In the process, you’ll grow as a parent and a person.