Whatever your goals for positive
parenting might be, here are a few guidelines to keep
you on track to being a positive parent.
Give Your Children
Choices: Allowing your children to make choices fosters independence and
confidence. It also helps children make good decisions for themselves when
they’re on their own.
When they’re young, allowing your children to choose what they wear can be very
empowering. Of course, very little ones can be overwhelmed by too many choices,
so pick out two t-shirts and let them choose from the two.
As your children get older, they can have more decisions. Even if you have your
heart set on your daughter being a piano player, if she wants to explore the
violin or even hockey instead, encourage that. You can also help your children
make good choices by helping them consider all the factors involved in that
choice. If they want to play hockey, they’ll have to consider the early morning
practices and loss of free time. They’ll also want to think about the skills
they will learn, the teamwork they’ll benefit from and so on.
Be a Role Model & Teacher:
Demonstrate how your children should behave and relate
to other people with your own example. If we are
constantly angry and yelling (which we’ll talk about a
bit later), how can we expect our children not to use
anger in their interactions with other people?
If you want your children to choose healthy foods, make
sure that you follow a healthy diet as well. If you want
them to read each night, make sure they see you reading
regularly as well.
You can be a role model by telling your children about
your experiences that they may not have seen firsthand.
Be honest, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and
let them learn from your sharing.
Play & Interact with Your Children: Be involved
with your children. Play games together, go on outings
together and have fun. Even if your children are older
and more independent, find things that you can do
together. Interacting with your children deepens your
family connection and allows you to demonstrate yourself
as a role model for your children.
Have tea parties with your little girl. Attend your
older children’s sporting events and get together to
talk about it afterward. Do art projects together. Get
involved with school project (but don’t take over)!
There are many opportunities throughout each and every
day to be involved with your children. Make sure you
take as many of them as you can. Sometimes we can get
involved in household chores or other things that need
to be done. Try to set a schedule for these activities,
so you have plenty of time afterward to interact with
your children. Or better yet, get your kids involved in
the household chores. Prepare meals together, reorganize
closets or clean out the garage. Even if the tasks
aren’t fun, keep the conversation light and enjoy your
Praise Your Children: Praise them for the things they do
well, improvements and efforts they make and encourage
them to pursue their interests. Do what you can to make
sure your children are surrounded by people who praise
including older siblings, relatives, educators and
Tell your kids:
“You are a great…”
“You are so kind.”
“I trust you.”
“I love you.”
“I like you”
“I’m proud of you”
“You make me happy”
“You are so good at…”
…and other positive things regularly. Don’t forget hugs
and kisses too! Remember, there doesn’t even have to be
a specific reason to share praise. Share it liberally
Avoid Bribery: We’ve all done it, especially with
younger and unruly children. The problem with offering
bribes for good behavior is that kids become focused on
the rewards and not worrying so much about what is good
behavior. Children who are accustomed to bribes may also
demand more bribes and refuse to behave, unless there’s
something in it for them!
That doesn’t mean you can’t reward your children, but
just as we’ve talked about being consistent and having
consequences related to the behavior, rewards should be
related as well. For example, if you are planning to go
out for some errands and you’re concerned that your
children might misbehave, don’t offer to buy them a toy
or treat for their good behavior. Instead you can say
“If you can stay close to me while we’re shopping that
means we can get done much more quickly. If we can get
done quickly, we’ll have enough time to stop at the play
area before we go.”
Now, they can better understand that good behavior has
immediate and logical consequences. i.e. When they
behave well, the shopping gets done faster and there is
more time for fun stuff.
Control The Anger: When our children do something
dangerous or against your family’s rules it’s sometimes
easy to lose our cool, especially when they’ve done the
same behavior repeatedly. Anger is a natural emotion,
but it needs to be controlled and expressing anger by
yelling and hurtful words is not always the best
Anger is an unhealthy emotion for both parent and child.
It raises your blood pressure and causes stress. It
makes children feel small and many comments thrown out
in anger can do long-term damage. Add to that, teaching
our children that anger is an appropriate response to a
mistake or error in judgment.
Take a moment to breathe (as long as they are not in
immediate danger) and compose yourself. Again, be
consistent in the way you react and impose discipline
and do it without anger or yelling.
Remember to keep things in perspective. If something
else is bothering you, don’t take it out on your
children. Is that toy on the floor really such a
horrible thing? Yes, it could be dangerous if somebody
trips over it, but it’s a mistake that can be corrected
If you lose your temper and yell or worse yet, say
something you don’t mean, it’s okay to admit your
mistake. Explain to your children that the way you
reacted to the situation was wrong, but that doesn’t
eliminate the need for consequences for improper
Listen to Your Children: Listening allows
children to feel free to talk to you about anything that
is troubling them and makes you a trusted confidant.
If your child has something to say, listen to them. Make
eye contact with them and listen to them at eye-level.
Don’t interrupt them and let them get their thoughts and
feelings out. Listen to their dreams and aspirations.
They need to feel confident in sharing their innermost
If you have more than one child, try to take time out
with each child individually and listen to them. Have
your spouse watch the other kids while you go out for a
special lunch or if you’re a single parent, have a
trusted friend or relative take care of the other
children. When kids have to compete for our attention,
sometimes it’s tough to really hear them and get to know
our special children.
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