In our parents’ generation, people didn’t think about things like parenting styles — they were parents, they got shit done, and that was that. But now that everyone is an armchair psychologist and parenting expert, we’ve been hearing a lot about different parenting styles: everything from helicopter parenting to permissive parenting to authoritative parenting, and everything in between. If you grew up with parents who were all about scaring you into behaving properly or using guilt to influence your actions, then you probably won’t want to raise your children the same way. And that’s where the positive parenting style comes in. Here’s what you need to know about positive parenting and whether it’s a good option for you.
What Is Positive Parenting?
Everyone wants to be a good parent, but what does it mean to have a positive parenting style? In short, positive parenting focuses on happiness, resilience, and positive development for children. Based on research and evidence-based strategies, positive parenting provides strategies for a range of developmental periods, challenges, and situations. The idea behind positive parenting is to establish a relationship between parents and children that involves caring, teaching, leading, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently and unconditionally.
Given how many components there are of positive parenting, Dr. Heather S. Lonczak put together this handy list of the components of positive parenting in an article for Positive Psychology:
- It involves Guiding
- It involves leading
- It involves teaching
- It is caring
- It is empowering
- It is nurturing
- It is sensitive to the child’s needs
- It is consistent
- It is always non-violent
- It provides regular open communication
- It provides affection
- It provides emotional security
- It provides emotional warmth
- It provides unconditional love
- It recognizes the positive
- It respects the child’s developmental stage
- It rewards accomplishments
- It sets boundaries
- It shows empathy for the child’s feelings
- It supports the child’s best interests
What Is An Example of Positive Parenting?
So, all the aspects of positive parenting sound pretty good, but what does it actually look like in practice? Here’s an example, courtesy of Ariadne Brill at Positive Parenting Connection:
Let’s say your six-year-old son Bobby keeps asking you when breakfast is going to be ready. He knows that it’s his job to put the napkins on the table — that’s nothing new — but for some reason, doesn’t want to do it today. Instead of demanding that he put the napkins on the table or yelling at him, you take a deep breath and give Bobby two choices: He can either put the napkins on the table while you’re finishing washing the fruit for breakfast, or he could wash the fruit and you’ll do the napkins. Bobby looks at you, shakes his head, and announces that he would not be helping with breakfast at all. You smile, and let him know that everyone has a job to do at breakfast, and he can either do the napkins or wash the fruit. Final offer. Eventually, he sighs and agrees to wash the fruit. Bobby isn’t thrilled about this, but he’s also not upset. Instead of arguing with him, you’ve turned this into a positive interaction.
According to Brill, this works because Bobby felt involved and capable, and the thought of doing a little work before breakfast wasn’t so overwhelming for him. Also, he had the opportunity and autonomy to make a choice or come up with his own solution. Not only that, but being trusted with a “parent” task like washing the fruit also made it more interesting for him.
Other ways to practice positive parenting include:
- Supporting exploration and involvement in decision-making
- Paying attention and responding to a child’s needs
- Using effective communication
- Attending to a child’s emotional expression and control
- Rewarding and encouraging positive behaviors
- Providing clear rules and expectations
- Applying consistent consequences for behaviors
- Providing adequate supervision and monitoring
- Acting as a positive role model
- Making positive family experiences a priority
What Are the Benefits of Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting can be a — well, positive — experience for both you as a parent, and well as your child. You both have the opportunity to learn from each other and communicate in a productive way. According to Lonczak, specific benefits of positive parenting include:
- Better school adjustment among children
- Increased motivation among infants
- Higher internalization among toddlers
- Better psychosocial functioning among adolescents
- Reduced depressive symptoms among adolescents
- Increased self-esteem among adolescents
- Increased optimism among children
- Increased social self-efficacy among adolescents
- Multiple positive outcomes among children, such as secure parental attachments, and better cognitive and social development
- Improved attachment security among toddlers
- Improved school adjustment among children
- Increased cognitive and social outcomes among preschoolers
- Reduced behavior problems among children
- Lower dysfunctional parenting styles
- Higher sense of parenting competence
- Decreased family conflict and stress
- Increased emotion regulation associated with various positive outcomes among children and adolescents
- Increased compliance and self-regulation among children
- Increased resilience among children and adolescents
- Increased social skills among adolescents
- Improved ability to resist negative peer influences among adolescents
As tempting as it may be to just yell at your kid after a long day or threaten them with some sort of punishment if they’re acting out, taking a little extra time to implement a positive parenting strategy can make all the difference for both of you.
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