Six Shifts towards Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting isn't something that you can adopt only if you are a certain 'type' of parent. It's not about adhering to rules or philosophies. It's about doing all we can to be good role models for our children. Regardless of our parenting style, we could all do with infusing some positivity into our relationship with our children. By saying and doing things differently, we may help them become better human beings. Creating a positive environment at home may help you have a better frame of mind to deal with the everyday challenges that life brings.

Here, I am sharing a few 'shifts' that could change the way you deal with these challenges as a parent. By making a few replacements or shifting your focus a little, you could see the relationship with your children take on a new perspective.

Six shifts towards positive parenting

1. Turning Fear into Respect

Deep down, we want our children to listen to us and do exactly as we say. This authoritative instinct is ingrained in us because that's the way we have probably been raised. But there is a fine line between being authoritative and inducing fear. Do you want your child to listen to you because they are scared of you, or do you want them to know you want the best for them? Building a relationship of trust takes time. Kids will try to defy you often, but if you keep your patience, they will learn that you have their best interests in mind. Over time, they will come to respect you. If they only fear you, you miss out on an opportunity to bond with them. And yes, a gaining respect involves giving respect. Parents shouldn't be the only ones giving instructions. They should involve their children in the process of decision-making. They must give them the skills to decide what's good for them. Even with young children, give them an opportunity to voice their opinions as much as they can. Instead of just asking them to 'Wear your coat', which will undoubtedly be met with resistance, ask them what they can to avoid feeling cold outside.

2. Replacing Threats or Blackmail with Consequences

If you find yourself beginning your sentences with 'Don't do it, or..' too often, you may unintentionally be using 'threats'. When children hear the word 'don't', they will either try to rebel or stop trying to do things on their own altogether. Instead of focusing on what they shouldn't be doing, try to get to the point quick. Tell them that the pan is hot, or that they could fall playing on the stairs. Inform them about the consequences they face from continuing their unsafe activity. Of course, there will be times when you have to intervene and physically remove them from danger. Other times, make sure they know what they are getting into.

Inform them about the consequences of their actions.Sometimes, we also end up emotionally 'blackmailing' our children into making it appear that their actions are more grave than they actually are. Displaying hurt or sadness or even refusing to make amends can be confusing for the child. Very often, they don't even know why they're in trouble in the first place. As such, seeing their parent distressed can make them feel more guilty than you want them to. Parents must be careful not to exaggerate negative emotions such as anger, sadness and disappointment. Avoid telling them that 'you have made me very angry' or 'I am not going to talk to you'. For kids, these statements often mean that things will stay like this forever. Instead, focus on what they did which they shouldn't have.

3. Doing away with Deception

Sometimes, it is hard not to lie to children. The truth can be too harsh or unsuitable. But that doesn't mean one has to lie. Try to avoid making false statements where you can. Never make promises you can't fulfil, and try to avoid saying things which simply aren't true. It is up to you whether you want them to believe in the tooth fairy, but make sure you don't create any monsters under the bed! This means creating fear of something that doesn't exist (monsters) or something that isn't actually fearful (the dark/closed spaces). If you can't avoid lying, try distraction. That gives you time to come up with an appropriate answer after thinking through. How many of us have irrational fears because as kids, we were told to obey to avoid something or someone?

4. Instead of Bribery, do Rewards

It is common to promise your kids something if they achieve a set goals. Seems innocent enough, right? But think about it - they go through their task focused on a material prize. Instead, they could be working hard just for the recognition, and the thrill of achieving something. Making a promise beforehand will only move the focus away from the task itself. Therefore, your promise of a gift if they achieve something becomes more of a bribe. Instead, the focus can be on rewarding good work. Ask your children to do their best and perform well. Even  if they don't reach the top spot in a competition, you can reward them for trying.

5. Turning Humiliation into Recognition

Recognise the intentions behind your child's behaviour.It's easy to laugh at something ridiculous that your child just said or tried to do. But did they mean for it to be funny? Children sense humiliation very easily and so, the shame can make them angry or withdrawn. Sometimes, you may not even realise this, and it later snowballs into a tantrum or showdown. Choose how you treat your child around others very carefully. Instead of admonishing them for, say, climbing the wrong side of the slide at the park, tell them that it's looks like fun, but they should let the other children play. Recognise their intentions. There may be times when they're actually trying to get attention and make you laugh. But at other times, they may simply be struggling with emotions and needing your support.

6. Moving from Comparison to Acknowledgement

Do not try to make your child do something by asking them to follow another child's actions. Every child is unique, and you must appreciate that. In fact, make them proud of being themselves. There's nothing wrong with appreciating another child's achievements, even before your kids. However, don't make it look like that is a standard for them to follow. Yes, kids do need positive role models and good friends, but every child has talent and you should acknowledge that.

This is not to say that parents aren't allowed to make mistakes. Sometimes, you may lose your cool when things get overwhelming. Just remember that someone looks up to you and it is your job to stay positive for their sake.

Be the person you want your child to be.

six tips for positive parenting

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