When I first heard the term positive parenting I was skeptical. It sounded like some new-age, soft form of parenting that resulted in raising kids who are entitled, unmotivated, and lacking in self control.
I was very wrong, and the science backs me up. Positive parenting can be seen as a parenting philosophy, rather than a parenting style.
It focuses more on creating a positive connection with your child through love, empathy, and kindness rather than creating powers struggles through the enforcement of a strict set of rules.
Does this mean parents that use the positive parenting approach don’t discipline their kids or have power struggles?
Absolutely not! Discipline is an integral part of positive parenting. But rather than putting your entire focus on the bad behavior and the corresponding punishment, there is a strong focus on understanding the cause for the behavior, showing empathy and finding solutions.
Not bad, but like most parents during that time, there was little consideration for why the behavior happened in the first place. And where there is no why (why the behavior happened), there isn’t a how (how we can prevent this behavior from happening again.)
One of the cornerstones of positive parenting is trying to understand why our children do things so we can teach and show them, with kindness, a better way. Rather than focusing all our attention on the bad behavior itself.
This is what drew me into learning more about this way of parenting. It appeals strongly to my own desire to be closely connected to the heart of my children and my innate need to ask why in pretty much every situation I find myself.
What is the Positive Parenting Approach?
Positive parenting rests on the hook of love and mutual respect. There is a strong display of empathy as we try to understand our kid’s choices both good and bad in effort to help guide them into making positive decisions on their own.
I personally didn’t start off this way. I started off my motherhood journey broken and full of anger. I yelled and screamed a lot and patience was in short supply. I’ve always been a loving mom, but I was always one spilled sippy cup away from a meltdown.
I’m not proud of that part of my life and I’m thankful that God has led me to
And it started by practicing empathy and taking personal responsibility for my own actions and how those actions affected my kids.
5 Attributes of Positive Parenting
There are several attributes that are distinctly associated with positive parenting. These are specifically what attracted me to learn more about positive parenting techniques in the first place.
- Shows empathy toward your child. This is simply you focusing on trying to understand and “be in the trenches” with your child in their moment of need. Instead of looking at their feelings from the outside, you come inside with compassion.
Connectionis paramount. As a parent, one of my biggest goals is to become and stay connected to the heart of my child. To be their main source of help, encouragement, and love.
- Creates healthy boundaries. Children, despite what they themselves may say, need and want to be told what to do. Power struggles ultimately happen when consistency is absent from parenting. When a child doesn’t know what to expect, they will always test the limits of what they can get away with.
- Looks for and believes the best. The positive power of affirmation always trumps the effects of pointing out fault. It works like this… when you see your child sharing, cleaning up without prompting or any other good thing… praise, praise, praise. It’s much easier to keep a good thing going that to stop a bad one.
- Takes personal responsibility. A key attribute of positive parenting is understanding how our own behavior affects our children. Taking personal responsibility helps us be intentional in how we communicate with our kids and forces us to make positive changes in our own lives.
How to Know if Positive Parenting is Right for your Family
If you are considering learning more about positive parenting and value having a positive relationship with your child and raising kids who really listen, this is a great place to start.
I want to be clear that I’m not a positive parenting expert or even a parenting expert. I’m a mom who’s made too many mistakes to count and sought out a better way. I’ve come to live that better way and have amazing kids and a very close bond with each of them.
It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of work and healing. I also personally don’t follow parenting manuals or parenting philosophies to the letter. I allow my heart and the spirit of God to lead me where He wants me to be.
If there is something I read or hear that doesn’t sit right with my spirit, I leave that part out. I recommend you do the same. Parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing nor should it be. Children are all unique and should be raised with care and creativity.
Is Positive Parenting Biblical?
Though the pioneers of positive parenting Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs do not claim to be Christian, I find this approach to parenting to be in line with scripture.
I am a Christian woman and an ordained minister of the gospel. I say that to say I love the Word of God and seek to raise godly children who love the Lord and do not stray from Christ.
It is my belief from scripture that a parenting style that stands on a firm foundation of respect, kindness, and love is starting from a Christ-like place. It also teaches parents to express grace as the driving force when disciplining, with punishments being given as needed in love.
The bible says that children are God’s reward and if we combine Christian practices such as studying scripture and prayer within a framework of positive parenting it’s a winning parenting combination.
3 Ways to Start Using Positive Parenting with your Kids Today
- Make connection your highest priority. When talking with your kids commit to putting away phones and other distractions and make eye contact. When disciplining, pull your child close or get down on their level and speak in a calm tone of voice.
- Model the behavior we desire. Children were created to observe and imitate the behaviors of their parents and mentors. If we want a particular behavior to be strong in our child, we need to start modeling it for them. How can we expect them to learn if they don’t have an example to follow?
- Love them unconditionally. Too many children walk around afraid of their parents or are not sure where they stand. As a result, they can become fearful of making mistakes and taking chances which are normal, healthy behaviors. When they know they are loved regardless of their choices, they are free to fall and soar.
Just remember that making positive changes takes time and lots of grace! And take comfort that you know what’s best for your child and should feel empowered to create your own unique parenting style for your child.
How do you practice positive parenting with your children? Share your thoughts in the comments below.