You may have heard your pediatrician mention “positive parenting” during well-child visits. Or you may have read about the topic in parenting magazines or blogs. This term refers to a style of parenting that supports a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral development.
Positive parenting means that you provide guidance and direction in a loving manner. But it does not mean that you avoid setting limits for your child. Instead, you make sure that:
- Your child knows the limits
- You follow through with age-appropriate consequences when boundaries are crossed
Positive parenting goals
As part of positive parenting, you:
- Respond to your child in a positive way when they follow rules
- Give specific praise for appropriate actions
- Find out if something is bothering your child—especially during difficult interactions
- Stay aware of your own thoughts and feelings. Understand how they can affect your response.
- Work to remain calm when stressed.
Tips for staying calm
Parenting can be stressful, and all parents have times when it feels difficult to cope with their child’s behavior.
It’s OK to take a break or to tell your child, “Mommy is going to take some deep breaths.” Or “Daddy is going to walk around the inpatient floor for a few minutes. We can talk about this when I get back.”
Strategies like these give you time to calm down. They help you to respond in the manner you intend. They also help change the direction of interactions before they become overly negative or unpleasant.
Making a plan
But, what about times when you need to respond right away? Sometimes you need to act quickly. Many parents find it is helpful to have a plan. This plan might include acknowledging your child’s feelings and then setting a limit or using “if/then” statements.
For example, you might say, “If you throw your iPad, then I will put it away for the rest of the day.” If you state a consequence, make sure that:
- You intend to do it
- It fits your child’s age and developmental level
Actions have consequences
With positive parenting, you also avoid overly harsh consequences or physical punishment.
Physical punishment, such as spanking, is associated with many things we don’t want for our children. These include:
- Mental health problems
- Negative relationships with parents
- Suicide risk
- Low self-esteem
Some children have medical conditions or treatments that impact their platelets and blood counts. Spanking or tightly grasping these children can cause serious, unintended harm.
Learn more about positive parenting
Given the number of negative outcomes associated with physical punishment, many hospitals around the globe have become Hit Free Zones. Learn more about Hit Free or No Hit Zones.
Experts can help you find effective discipline and parenting strategies that do not involve hitting your child. Social workers, psychologists, and other psychosocial team members are great resources when faced with parenting challenges. These professionals can help you identify positive parenting practices that work well for you and your family.