As moms, we navigate challenging terrain all day, every day. No one day ever looks like another. Though we may crave more certainty… certainty that our toddler won’t have a blowup today or that our tween who’s knee deep in puberty won’t be super moody this morning… this #momlife is an adventure.
But even great adventures need some stability and that’s where positive parenting comes in. Your days don’t need to be consumed with “figuring it all out” and still feeling like a failure or overwhelmed with mom guilt.
I know this because that was my daily routine. I started my days with great intentions and ended each day with the guilt of all the things I messed up, how many times I lost my temper and the fact that I still can’t get my 3-year-old to sleep in his own bed.
5 Positive Parenting Skills that Really Work
I finally stopped believing the lie that as a mom I’m supposed to “just know” how to do all this stuff well. And I humbled myself to discover new and better ways to raise my kids.
These are the parenting skills that I do my best to use with my children every day. And they work to not only make things better,
My favorite part of using these skills with my kids is they work to prepare my children for becoming happy and healthy adults. They aren’t just a bag of tricks to temporarily get my toddler out of tantrum-mode.
1 – Establishes Healthy Boundaries
This is probably one of the most helpful tips I’ve learned and used over the years. Not having proper boundaries and a clear set of expectations for your children to follow is like trying to set up dominoes on a sandy beach.
It would be like driving in a fancy sports car but not having any posted speed limits. You’d be tempted to go faster but you’d never know how fast the limit was and would spend your days agitated and looking in your rear-view mirror or racking up steep speeding tickets.
It’s more enjoyable for everyone when we know what’s going to happen if we do this or that. Then if your child steps outside of that border, they learn the corresponding consequence of their action.
In my house, we’ve hardly experienced tantrums with our toddlers. I believe the reason for that isn’t that we have 3 kids that were born to love to listen as toddlers. Nope! It’s that we established very clear expectations and didn’t waiver… most of the time.
For example, when we go into a store my son is told clearly that we don’t run around and we don’t touch things unless he asks permission. Sure, he will test the limits. When he does this, he’s merely trying to establish the boundary line. Totally normal behavior.
It’s our job to speak, show, and uphold the boundaries we give to our kids. If I lose my cool, ignore him out of frustration, and only sometimes correct his behavior, he’s left confused. And we’ll need to cycle through this scenario every time we go in the store.
Simply, decide what your expectations are, tell them to your children repeatedly, and stick to what you say no matter what. It takes time but if you do this, you will see a difference.
2 – Focus on Your Child Over the Behavior
This may seem counterintuitive but stick with me here. When your child makes a poor choice or shows undesirable behavior it’s often our knee-jerk reaction to zero in on what they just did.
I remember when my kids would mess up I would spend so much time focusing on that behavior and how I couldn’t believe they did it… again. But I didn’t stop and consider my child and why she did do it again.
I was too consumed in my lecture-mode to engage with their heart and bring them into the conversation.
Positive parenting is all about connection and kindness. And let’s face it, we as adults mess up a lot too. And the last thing we need or want is someone beating us down about our mistakes.
We need people to be empathetic with our situation and help us to identify why we keep doing the same things over and over. When we do that, we find solutions and finally make a change.
It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about or discuss wrong-doing. We just show how much we care by diving into that situation and working with our kid to find a solution. It teaches our kids that mistakes are a natural part of life but it’s how we move forward that makes the difference.
3 – Communicates with Respect
We all deserve and like to be talked to with respect. Our children, no matter how little, deserve respect.
Talking down to and belittling our kids is unnecessary and stems from our own uncontrolled emotions. I know this because I used to emotionally dump on my kids whenever I felt frustrated.
I yelled and screamed whenever I felt the need with little regard for the damage I was doing until after I was done and the guilt would consume me so deeply.
It was a vicious cycle and all stemmed from my feelings of powerlessness. I felt powerless to stop certain behaviors and in my fear of never being able to figure it out, I yelled.
Over several years and a humbling surrender to Christ, I have learned to stop communicating disrespectfully to my kids. And what a difference it makes.
I’m no longer racked with guilt and my relationship with my kids is amazingly close.
I still discipline, correct, and establish those firm and clear boundaries but because I’ve laid the groundwork, there’s little need for blowups.
As for those moments when I feel overwhelmed and ready to blow, I practice taking a moment to think and process what I’m feeling. I remind myself that yelling doesn’t ever help and I hate the awful hangover of guilt that floods in immediately after.
4 – Looks for the Good
The bible teaches to believe and look for the good in every situation. Though this, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things a person can do it’s very important for parents to learn.
That doesn’t mean you walk around sugar coating your child’s behavior. However, you set your mind to look for the positive if there’s any to be found.
If you see good, then say good. In other words, praise them for the good you do see. If you see your child cleaning up their room without you reminding them
If your daughter brushes her teeth before bed but left the sink a mess try saying something like, “thank you for brushing your teeth by yourself, great job! But don’t forget that we also need to keep the sink clean too.” Then follow by making them clean the sink.
This works better than calling your child into the room and pointing out the messy sink and criticizing them for being so messy. It’s also better than seeing the sink and quietly cleaning it up yourself.
Parenting is hard work and requires us to be intentional about training our kids to be sufficient and self-motivated.
5 – Takes Personal Responsibility
One of the biggest areas of growth for me as a mom is learning to take responsibility for my own actions and the consequences of those actions as it relates to my children.
I realized that if I yell at my kids, there are damaging consequences. Equally, if I parent without boundaries and give in to my kids whenever I’m tired, those are also consequences that’ll come back to bite me later.
If I spend most of my time and focus on training and disciplining my children and not on building connection and relationship I will have a much harder time raising them.
Part of being a great mom is learning to better
How do you practice positive parenting in your home? Share in the comments below.