Under the principles of Positive Parenting, we will have three main goals for our children: to transmit our Christian values, to prepare them for adult life, and to guarantee their safety, including their health.
These are purposes any parent can easily identify with, as it is our mission to protect and educate our children. However, the relationship with your child may be at a delicate point or maybe a relationship in which you feel that he/she is moving away from you.
If you think this is your case, do not be afraid because I assure you that there is a solution. This is where Positive Parenting will help you make him/her feel better and act better. It will even have the same effect on you.
Positive parenting: It all starts with you
Before I start giving you tips on applying Positive Parenting in your home, I want to clarify a very important point. In order for the lessons of positive parenting to have the desired effect, you need to be the first one to work on it.
How can you do this? The first thing you must do is commit to regulating your own emotions. We are so immersed in our own conflicts that we let them affect our children when they should not.
The second thing is to be committed to and prioritize the father-child or mother-child connection. If you forget the commitments you made, why should a child respect them? You lead, you set the example. They cooperate and follow your lead.
Thirdly, the love and affection you give your children should never, I repeat, never be paused as a form of punishment; nor as a way of controlling or manipulating. You are there to be a guide, to be a coach; who, regardless of what happens, will continue to care about what happens to your children.
Tips for practicing Positive Parenting
Positive Parenting values reflection, fluid communication, and, above all, love between parents and children. But how do I apply all this in my family? Here are some tips that I know you will find very useful:
1. Evaluate all the teachings you are giving them
Applying Positive Parenting is much more than just committing to not yelling at your child when he or she misbehaves. It is more, much more than that. It requires restructuring your relationship. You need to carefully evaluate all the behaviors you have with your children based on whether it strengthens or weakens your relationship with them.
Considering that strengthening bonds is your main focus, think of your disciplinary strategy as the most effective way to tighten your relationship with them. When a child feels attached to his or her parents, it will be natural for him or her to want to please them.
Instead of punishing, it is your job to guide them to obey the limits you set. An important detail when setting limits is that you have to be realistic about their abilities. Do not forget to be empathetic with them and help them focus on improving their behavior.
Be careful with punishments because it has been proven that they only generate resentment and prolong bad behaviors.
2. Teach them to regulate their emotions
It is their lack of experience and level of development that makes it so easy for children to be controlled by their emotions. For them, there is no way to identify what they are feeling or why they behave a certain way sometimes.
But you, as a parent, do have the answers. And by having them, it is your duty to explain them to your children according to their level of understanding. Let them know that they are able to control themselves and improve their behaviors.
3. Corrections should always reaffirm your connection
Children tend to misbehave when they feel bad about themselves or when they are disconnected from us. That is why it is so vital to reaffirm how connected we are, so they feel confident enough to talk about what is bothering them or to be honest with you when they misbehave, and also, to listen to your suggestions.
For example, if your younger child pushes your older one, stand at their level and talk to them while looking into their eyes. You can tell them as you take this position: “You do not have to push your brother. Pushing is wrong, you can hurt him or cause him to fall. Next time, ask him to move and say please.”
Or if you know that your daughter ate all the cookies in the kitchen, instead of accusing her in front of the whole family, take a moment alone, put your hand on her shoulder and say something like: “Are you afraid to tell me about the cookies? You know you can tell me everything.”
4. Set limits, but with empathy
Applying Positive Parenting in your home does not mean forgetting about limits. On the contrary, they are still very necessary. However, they must be set with empathy. As an authority figure, it is your duty to enforce the rules. But, enforcing them is easier if the children know that their parents understand them and would not do things for the worse.
Think about this, if my mom imposes limits on me that does not make sense or hurt me, will I trust her? You will not, regardless of how obedient you are. Following this principle, the next time you impose limits, add sentences that validate your children’s feelings.
For example, if you tell your children to go to bed early, let them know that you understand how sad it makes them, but how necessary it is for them to do it. Or if they are afraid to face their guilt, explain to them that being afraid is normal and that it is more important to always tell the truth.
When there are physical fights between siblings, I advise you to intervene immediately; but once the conflict is neutralized, it will be time to empathize with both parties. Emphasize that hitting is not the solution and that problems can be solved more easily by talking.
5. The way you treat your children will be the way they learn to treat themselves
Have you ever wondered why children from strict parents believe so little in themselves? It is because the way our parents treat us in our childhood will be the way we see ourselves in the future as adults.
That said, you have great power in your hands. If you are hard on them, they will be hard on themselves, but if you are too permissive with them, they will be too permissive with themselves. The best option is to simply set appropriate boundaries, express them with love, and let them develop more positive self-perceptions.
When you discipline harshly, ironically, you are not raising perfect little soldiers, you are raising children who will not know how to discipline themselves. They will not know how to regulate themselves, they will not be independent and they will be unhappy. Unhappy children who will grow up to be unhappy adults.
Discipline them constructively, understand them, love them, and let them know that Our Lord is with us always, taking care of us.
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