6 Tips to Be a Kick Ass Positive Parent

Life

We all crave healthy relationships with our children. Relationships overflowing with honesty, trust, and unconditional love.

But many traditional discipline techniques undermine those aspirations, forging a shaky framework rather than building a solid foundation for our most valued, life-long bonds. Methods like bullying, punishment, timeouts, threats and rewards may appear to work in the short term but not for the reasons we’d hope.

They create fear, anxiety and mistrust. Worst of all they leverage our love, communicating it is conditional on our child’s behaviour. Children may perceive we love them when they’re good but not when they’re bad.

Positive parenting takes a different approach. Its purpose is to always find ways to strengthen connection.

Connection is a positive parent’s superpower and it’s the only reason kids freely give up what they want to do and do what we want instead. When we strengthen our connection with our children parenting become easier, our days feel smoother and most importantly our relationships with our children thrive as we become allies rather than adversaries.

So, how do you strengthen connection? Here are six easy techniques you can start today.

1. BE AUTHENTIC

Be yourself with your kids. Don’t hide behind the illusion of being the perfect mother of father – it doesn’t exist. Let your kids see you for who you really are; a real person with likes, dislikes, frustrations, strengths and weaknesses. When my son was born he was perfect, like all babies. And I wanted to be perfect for him. But I’ve realized perfect is boring and it’s tough to connect with. I’m committed to letting my son see my imperfections so we can foster an authentic relationship.

“There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one” Sue Atkins

CONNECTION is the antidote to COERCION. Join the Free 5-Day Natural Parenting Superpowers Course to Learn More!

2. APOLOGIZE

Alfie Kohn makes a brilliant suggestion in Unconditional Parenting. Apologize. Simply apologize. Why?! First, it sets a powerful example. Second, it helps take us off our perfect parenting pedestal. It shows our children when we make a mistake, it’s no big deal. We can admit to it, apologize, model respectful behaviour and move on. It makes us vulnerable and in that moment it creates a richer connection with our kids.

Alfie recommends making a regular habit of apologizing at least once a week. My guess is your kid’s reaction will make you so happy you’ll do it more often.

3. MAKE “YES” YOUR DEFAULT

You can’t say yes all the time. But don’t automatically say no, either. Sometimes we don’t let our kids to do something simply because it’s inconvenient not because it’s unsafe or impossible. And while our needs are valid, it’s important to find a balance so kids feel their needs are equally valued and considered. Try to find a way to turn a few no’s into yes’s, even if they’re conditional.

4. SCHEDULE SPECIAL TIME

Dr Laura Markham suggests Special Time can transform child’s behavior. Special Time deepens connection by giving kids their parent’s undivided attention, which they desperately crave.

How do you schedule Special Time?

  • Announce you’d like to have Special Time with each child for at least 15 minutes every day if you can
  • Name the Special Time for your child, “Sarah Time” for example
  • Alternate who decides what to do for Special Time – one day you decide, the next day your child decides
  • Give your child your absolute and undivided attention. No phones. No agendas. No distractions.
  • Feel the magic

5. HOW MANY HUGS?  

Family therapist Virginia Satir famously said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

Hug your child good morning, good-bye and hello. Snuggle in bed at nighttime and on the couch watching a movie. The twelve-hug rule isn’t exclusive to children, either. Remember what children need most are two happy parents so be openly loving in front of them: it’s not only beneficial for your marriage but also an invaluable lesson in modelling healthy affection to our kids.

Between your kids and your partner, you’ll be hugged silly (and happy) by the end of the day.

6. KEEP YOUR EYE ON YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS

What are your long-term goals for your kids? For them to be happy. Independent. Healthy. Confident. Kind. Loving. Inquisitive. Responsible and balanced?

Now, imagine you are at your child’s school or at the local park. There are a couple of mothers around the corner who know your child. You overhear their conversation. They’re talking about your child.

Pause for a moment. How would you like them to describe your child? I’m guessing your wouldn’t want to hear, “He’s such a good boy, never misbehaves. He never bothers adults. You don’t hear a peep out of him”. The fundamental question is whether we sometimes act as though this is what we want.

In tough moments it can help to remember your long-term goals for your kids and make difficult parenting decisions a little easier. We need to let our kids be kids, to play freely and develop into their full potentials. To have an impassioned opinion should be celebrated, not squashed. A recent study found kids who frequently break the rules often go on to become educational over-achievers and high-earning adults. Therapists also suggest strong willed children are more likely to follow their instincts and do what feels morally right rather than following the crowd.

DARE TO BE A POSITIVE PARENT

Authoritarian parenting techniques are popular because large parts of our society believe children must be controlled. Its a moral as well as a practical question. Beyond keeping our children safe is it right to try to control them? Personally, I don’t believe it is. And even if it were, its not possible…at least not in the long run

Positive parenting techniques are the antidote. By applying simple principles to bond with our children to make them feel safe and secure we’re setting the stage for them to grow into independent and confident adults. In years from now our kids won’t remember what we said, but they’ll remember how we made them feel. And that’s what matters most.

“One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.” Charles Raison

CONNECTION is the antidote to COERCION. Join the Free 5-Day Natural Parenting Superpowers Course to Learn More!

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COMMENTS
  • March 28, 2016
    Nicole

    Totally agree with this. But…I do have to give correction and consequences sometimes…don’t I? How do I do this and be a positive parent?

    • June 04, 2017
      Angie

      That’s easy… be kind when applying discipline… be age appropriate and authentic and don’t act out of anger

  • November 25, 2016
    Emily

    Great article!! 🙂 Happy belated Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • November 26, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much Emily and you too! Hope you’ve gad a lovely holiday xx

      • November 27, 2016
        Emily

        Thanks Tracy! 🙂

  • November 25, 2016
    Jessica

    Just the positive encouragement I needed today! We have had a difficult few weeks in our house, and I need to learn to forgive myself for not being my idea of the ‘perfect parent’. And I can’t wait to get into some special time, such an important reminder, thank you.

    • November 26, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Pleasure Jessica and so happy it resonated with you. Enjoy your special time! xx

  • November 29, 2016
    Joyce

    Such an excellent reminder…something interesting to note to is when you are too powerful and choose to yell or be angry with your child it sets off their frontal lobe which is their flight or fight mechanism…so they just shut you out. Much more effective to come to their level and just talk. Don’t intimidate 😀Gotta constantly remind myself of that one with a ‘strong willed ‘ 12 year old…

    • November 29, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much Joyce for your wonderful advice as well. You are so right and so important to remember in the moment. I’m blessed with being calm under pressure but kids certainly know how to push our buttons; often unresolved issues we have which they highlight we need to deal with. Enjoy your 12 year old…gosh it goes too fast hey! 🙂

  • November 29, 2016
    Elle

    I love this and its definitely how I want and need to parent. Its raising a question in my mind that im yet to resolve. Bub is 7mths so it’s not urgent but i feel wrong about telling him Santa is real. I think your post just helped me understand why and decide on an action plan 😊 thankyou

    • November 29, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Elle and such a great age – although its all SO good!! To be honest, I’ve been wondering the same lately. I’ve seen so many articles on social media the last few weeks about not telling kids Santa is real. We’re doing Santa though and I remember absolutely loving the magic of Christmas and Santa was such a big part of it. I don’t remember thinking my parents were deceiving me – I thought they were amazing for keeping the magic alive so long. But I can understand parent’s concern. What are you going to do? I’d love any advice too! xx

      • November 30, 2016
        Larissa

        Oh no!!!?? The magic of Christmas, which includes Santa, is such a gift. I never saw it as lying and my 9 year old son still believes. My 12 year old daughter caught on last year but she in no way felt betrayed. Instead she is grateful for all of the tradition and excitement and is now excited to keep it up for her little brother. And for me, Santa is still real which is why it never really felt like lying in the first place. It’s about believing in something bigger, something wonderful and something kind. It ignites their imaginations and fills them with anticipation. I think the loveliness far outweighs any issues concerned with lying.
        My daughter used to love Harry Potter and she started to write letters to Harry Potter. “Harry Potter” always wrote back. This exchange of letters went on for 2 years. The joy it brought to both of us and the dialogue was truly magical… there is nothing deceitful about make believe and imagination!

        • November 30, 2016
          Tracy Gillett

          Thank you Larissa!! I absolutely LOVE the magic of Christmas and had never thought about not doing Santa – its so much fun for us and for kids!!! I am the biggest kid at Xmas. I never felt that way with my parents either, I still feel so grateful my mum especially made it so magical. She saved her pennies and made it amazing. I haven’t actually read many of the articles lately about parents telling their kids the truth from the start about Santa as it breaks my heart to think about not doing it but it did make me question it when I saw others I respect not doing it – typical mummy guilt I guess!! Thank you for your lovely comment and here’s to San San as my three year old calls him. 26 sleeps to go!!! xxx

  • November 30, 2016
    Larissa Mills

    I love these tips and have found them to absolutely work. I now have a 12 year old girl and a 9 year old boy and being authentic is one of the most valuable things I can do to maintain the connection we all have one another. I also think one of the biggest factors in parenting this way is to be consistent. There is nothing that breaks the bonds of trust like being inconsistent. Perhaps it’s a little like dieting. Bingeing doesn’t work so know what your limitations are, and stick to them.

  • November 30, 2016
    Sarah

    First, I love reading your posts. Thank you for taking the time to share your research with me.
    I’m pregnant with my first (“due” Jan 2), and as we get closer to Christmas I’m starting to wonder how I can curb consumerism in my little one. We spend the holidays with my husbands family, and there are four cousins (ages range from 12 to 5) who get showered with gifts. It all feels a bit competitive between the children and the parents. I want my child to feel unburdened by owning lots of things and to truly charish the special few he/she has. Have you come across any good research or books on the subject? What’s your gifting philosophy?
    Thanks again,
    Sarah

  • December 06, 2016
    Brita

    Beautiful article. Perhaps needs a little edit for all the apostrophes if you get time to come back to it.

    • December 08, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Brita and I’ll go back and edit the post – thanks! 🙂

  • February 20, 2017
    Maria

    Olá Tracy
    sou portuguesa e descobri o seu blog, estou a adorar ler. Parabens!
    Identifico-me com a sua atitude na forma de educar. Tenho um filho de 10 anos e sigo a parentalidade positiva, porém tem dias em que nada nenhum dos passos que referiu funcionam. Facilmente o meu filho diz NÃO e dificilmente aceita um não. Tenho que adotar estratégias um pouco diferentes, como: Comportamento incorreto tem consequencias desagradaveis.
    Vou voltar a ler o seu blog.
    Kiss
    Maria

  • March 20, 2017
    Mary

    Hello! Thanks for the articles- I love the philosophies. I have a friend who is very much into positive parenting but I am finding I am needing to limit our playdates (3yo’s) as her child is very often unpleasant to the other kids (snatches, taunts, pushes, bites….the dates nearly always end in tears and is exhausting to be around). The Mum does take here aside and talk to her but it doesn’t seem to resonate with the child. I can’t but help thinking the child needs firmer teaching. Any tips as to both how to respond to the child and the mother? thank-you.

  • June 03, 2017
    Rosie Farrand

    This is a beautifully written, brilliant article. I fully agree with all you’ve written and it’s heart warming to know that there are so many parents out there using positive parenting techniques as opposed to authoritative measures. Love the apology concept too. I’m a natural ‘apologiser’ so it was a no brainer to say sorry to my wee boy when I lost my cool or upset him and it’s amazing how responsive he is to it and now he apologises automatically in certain circumstances, it’s so gorgeous to see! 😊

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