There are so many experts on parenting, each with their own ideas of how it's done best. As a parent myself, I've read more than a fair share of these books, often desperately seeking out hope that I can step out of the messy feelings of not knowing with the wisdom that can be found in the book. There are answers! As if the complex challenges of parenting can be resolved with a strategy. I always wonder what kind of person would have the gall to call themselves a parenting expert, or even if they actually have children!
There's also so many books, so many ideas, often with different "experts" advising different strategies. It's enough to make a stressed out parent dizzy! So, as you may have picked up, I'm a bit hesitant about the very idea of parenting advice. The truth is, all children are different. They have different temperaments, different experiences, and certain parenting strategies may help with one child, but not necessarily the other. There is no "answer". But there are some ideas about parenting that have been extremely helpful to the families I've worked with, and even for my own kids. Positive Parenting is one of them.
Have you ever found yourself consistently yelling at your child, frustrated with your child? Have you noticed that the more you yell, the more they do the wrong thing? And then the more you feel like you have to yell, and the more frustrated you become? This is called a "negative feedback loop". It doesn't feel good for anyone, it's not effective, and it can be hard to get out of.
What Does Positive Parenting Look Like?
Consider implementing once a week family meetings.
Identify 4-5 values for your home. Something like safety, cooperation, honesty, and kindness. Make sure the values are clearly defined. For example, if you choose "respect"--what exactly does that mean? Review the values each weekly meeting.
With your children, develop rules for the home. Try to frame them in a positive manner. "We us safe and helpful hands in our home", as opposed to "No hitting". Try to keep the rules to 10 or less. Write them down and hang them on each floor, if possible. Review the rules each week, as needed.
In real time and during the weekly meeting, take time out to praise your children for all the things they have done right. "I love the way you were flexible and changed your clothes this morning. That's cooperation and I appreciate it". Be specific. Incorporate the language of your house rules and values in your praise as possible. Try to give 4 praise statements for every corrective feedback.
When your child is breaking a rule, calmly remind them of the rule. "Throwing things is not having helpful hands. You have been doing so well, and I know you can do well again. Let's reset, and come help me with dinner. Thank you". Thanking your kids as if there is no question that they will follow directions has a big impact.
If your child does not respond to your direction. Go to them. Put your hand on their shoulder. Take them away from the situation and give them a "Time In". A few minutes with you to take some deep breathes, calm down, receive positive praise for something they have recently done well, clearly hear what they were doing that is not acceptable in the home, and another chance to reset and start again.
During your weekly meetings, after you give praise statements for each child, plan out your week. Activities, meals, etc. Ask your kids for input. Remind them that adults have ultimate decision making, but that you also want to hear what they think.
Allot 10 unconditional minutes a day to spend with your kids, for play. This time can really communicate to your kids that they matter and can have a big impact on turning negative behavior around!
What Positive Parenting Is Not
Allowing children to break rules, without consequence.
Parenting can be challenging for everyone, and we can easily get caught in a negative feedback loop, leaving everyone in the house extra irritable and even hopeless. If parenting-related stress and negative feelings are overshadowing your parenting joy, you might be caught in the loop. Creating Space Counseling and Wellness can help you to rise out of the negativity, implement some concrete strategies to help your family feel more secure and to reclaim moments of joy that make parenting rewarding enough to hang in there for the tough times. And that, really, is what relationships--and parenting--is all about.
Call today to schedule an appointment! 856-281-1664