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Positive parenting

positive parenting

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All of us want to be good parents. Ideally we want our children to grow up feeling safe, loved and respected. And of course because we are human, there are times when positive parenting feels a real stretch for us and we can end up reacting to children in ways that we feel regret about later.

It can be very useful to have an understanding of positive parenting so that in times of crisis or stress you can fall back onto a more formulaic way of parenting that will help you stay open in your approach even though your internal resources are limited.

What is positive parenting?

Positive parenting does what it says on the tin, it focuses on what is going well rather than giving excessive attention to difficulties or challenges. It is based on a principle of showing your child that you love and approve of them and this can be done on different levels.

Communicate differently

The words you speak and the tone of voice that you say them in convey a great deal more to your child than just a simple sentence. As a rule try to preface your sentences with statements like ‘what I love about what you are doing is ……’ or ‘one of the things that I appreciate about you is ….’ rather than ‘stop …..’ or ‘why can’t you ever do….’.

Focussing on what is going well and being done correctly creates an atmosphere of safety and trust. Once you have expressed the positive then there is space to make a suggestion of what can be done differently for example ‘Charlie I love how you express yourself in paint so beautifully, maybe you can put all your colours back in that tin now that you’ve stopped painting’. From a sentence like this the child will feel appreciated and recognised rather than ‘told off’.

Your behaviour as a parent

The way you behave as a parent communicates loads to a child. Not just in what you say but in how they see you reacting, communicating to others and how you treat yourself. It really does pay off to put some time aside for self-care and to do so knowing that you deserve it. It is almost impossible to teach a child something that you do not model yourself. This is particularly important when you are tired, stressed or upset as children inevitably feel responsible for parents feelings. If a parent can give a clear message that they know they are run down and that they are going to do something positive for themselves the child can then relax.


positive parentingAvoiding harsh punishments like smacking and excessive shouting even when there are occasions when you feel that only this would work is a really important step towards positive parenting. This situation is more about your anger management than what your child has done. The impulse to severely punish a child comes from fear and in doing so you will terrify your child who is then likely to go on and terrify others. Find ways of positiviely expressing boundaries and expectations and communicate them clearly.

Crossing boundaries

When a child crosses boundaries explain to them what you have seen happen and why it is a problem. Give them a clear warning about what will need to happen if they do it again. The less reactionary you are in these times the easier it will be all round.

Supporting your child

Finally supporting your child to be who they are rather than who you think they should be, is probably the single biggest gift you can give to them. Most of us will have had experiences of being compared to someone else or something else that was deemed better in some way. This is incredibly painful and leads to very low self-esteem. Not all children are born to be scientists, doctors, artists or sports people. Tune into to what your child loves and encourage it in them even if it is 180 degrees away from what you love!




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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