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Positive Parenting

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 time together.

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 friends.

Tell your kids:

“Good job”
“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 just because.

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 something like:

“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 solution.

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 without anger.

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 behavior.

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 desires.

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.


Helpful Resources:

Better Behavior Wheel An upbeat, fun, and totally unique approach to child behavior management.

Parenting An Only Child The Joys And Challenges Of Raising Your One And Only: Looks at the advantages and disadvantages of the single-child family, and offers tips on raising an only child.

Vicki Lansky's Practical Parenting Tips: Over 1,500 Helpful Hints for the First Five Years. A treasured classic of time-tested tips and advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and from parents "in the trenches."

Free Subscription to Baby Talk Magazine Babytalk has all the information expectant and new parents want and need – from health and safety issues to the latest and greatest products for baby.

Reading Solutions for Kids

Zoobooks Turn a youngster's love of animals into a love of reading!





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