What comes to mind when you hear the phrase Positive Parenting? Sweet kisses as you lay your sleepy baby in her crib? A heartfelt round of applause when your toddler finally takes to his potty? An enthusiastic cheer as your preschooler sails off on his two-wheeler for the first time?
While these examples are certainly clear demonstrations of positive, loving and supportive parenting, the kind of parenting that children surely respond to, the definition of Positive Parenting digs much deeper than that.
Positive Parenting is the approach to parenting that we believe best supports all aspects of healthy child development. It is based on decades of research into the links between parenting and how young children respond to life's challenges.
What does it mean to be a Positive Parent?
In our terms, a Positive Parent is a loving, understanding, reasonable, protective teacher and model. Each of these words holds special meaning.
A Positive Parent is LOVING.
Research clearly shows that parents must be warm and nurturing, and show unconditional love for their children to flourish. This kind of love is based on listening for and responding sensitively to each child's needs and showing empathy with and respect for each child.
A Positive Parent is UNDERSTANDING.
A Positive Parent is understanding of each child's temperament, and is able to build on the strengths of each child's nature, yet be flexible as time and circumstances dictate.
A Positive Parent is REASONABLE.
A reasonable Positive Parent is consistent and predictable, sets and communicates clear limits and expectations and constructs consequences for irresponsible behaviour that are natural and reasonable, but not punitive.
A Positive Parent is PROTECTIVE.
Because infants and young children are so helpless, they need adults to provide a safe and secure base. To be protective parents must be actively involved with each child, and provide not only a physically safe environment, but also an emotionally safe atmosphere where children can experiment with emotions, relationships and ideas.
A Positive Parent is a TEACHER.
Each parent, in his or her own style and manner, provides opportunities for each child to learn in an atmosphere of acceptance, encouragement and with expectations of success. Positive Parents offer each child choices and encourage children to learn to solve problems and make decisions.
A Positive Parent is a MODEL.
Infants and young children are consummate imitators, constantly looking to their parents for guidance in how to handle life's challenges. To be an excellent role model, parents must know themselves, both internally, regarding their emotions, values and beliefs, and how they appear to others in the family, on the job and in their community.
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"Mirror, mirror on the wall; who’s the fairest of them all?" Wouldn’t it be great if your mirror could talk back, offering you wisdom and advice on how to effectively parent your child? Although your mirror cannot reflect words and ideas, there are mirror-like skills you can use to accomplish the same task—Reflective Parenting.
What is Reflective Parenting, exactly?
To be a Reflective Parent is to look in an imaginary mirror from time to time and ask yourself if how you are parenting is the best way to help your child learn.
The Core Strategy of Reflective Parenting - ask yourself these types of questions to help move to new and more positive solutions.
- Do I feel good about what I just did?
- What would help my child learn from this situation?
- How does my child feel about what just happened?
- If I watched someone else do this, what would I think?
- What was my child’s goal in what she just did?
- What was my goal in what I just did?
Steve is watching his 9-month old son, Todd, move towards the china cabinet. When he pulls himself up to grab the handle on the door, Steve scolds, “Bad Todd! Bad! Don’t touch Daddy’s things!” Todd stops. But he looks frightened and confused.
As Steve picks Todd up to move him away from the china cabinet, Steve reflects on what just happened. First, he didn’t mean to call Todd “bad.” Secondly, Todd probably has no idea why Steve is upset.
Steve then takes Todd back to the china cabinet and sits on the floor with him. Steve points to some of the items inside. He tells Todd how special they are, but explains “Don’t touch. No touching.” Then, Steve cuddles Todd as he takes him to his play area.
In this situation, Steve used Reflective Parenting. He thought about his first negative response to Todd, and then, upon reflection, created a new positive parenting interaction.
When should you apply Reflective Parenting?
- Prior to a situation: ask yourself some reflective questions before you intervene with your child.
- During a situation: sometimes you can see you’re really off track in being a Positive Parent when you are in the middle of a parenting situation. When this happens, slow things down and use reflective questions to get yourself back on track.
- After a situation: evaluate how you’re feeling about what happened. If you decide that you really don’t feel good about what just happened, “revisit” and redo things in a new way—just as Steve did in the example.
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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Positive Parenting?” Sweet kisses as you lay your sleepy baby in her crib? A heartfelt round of applause when your toddler finally takes to his potty? An enthusiastic cheer as your preschooler sails off on his two-wheeler for the first time?
While these examples are certainly clear demonstrations of positive, loving and supportive parenting—the kind of parenting that children surely respond to—the definition of Positive Parenting digs much deeper than that. We have based our working philosophy around Positive Parenting.
Here are some questions you may be wondering about as you learn more about Positive Parenting and Comfort, Play & Teach.
Why is Positive Parenting important?
Invest in Kids' National Survey of Parents of Young Children, showed that although 9 out of 10 Canadian parents believe that parenting is the most important thing they do, nearly a third of parents could increase their Positive Parenting, a third could be more effective in their parenting and nearly two thirds could decrease their punitive parenting.
Why do we believe Positive Parenting is the best approach?
The Positive Parenting approach reflects the learning from decades of research on parenting style and the impact it has on children's development. Positive Parenting is the most important predictor of children's mental health and success in life. Equally important, Positive Parenting helps create a lifelong warm, respectful and loving relationship between parent and child.
Is Positive Parenting just about being nice to your child?
Absolutely not. Often being a reasonable parent does not feel very positive at the time. Take, for example, setting limits or disciplining appropriately. You may not feel very positive at the time. However, the long-term impacts of Positive Parenting are positive for children, and their relationship with their parents.
Being a Positive Parent seems overwhelming. How can I be that perfect?
While as a concept, Positive Parenting may look challenging, we created Comfort, Play & Teach®: A Positive Approach to Parenting. Comfort, Play & Teach® are the three main how-to's of Positive Parenting. Each is a tried and true, yet simple, way of relating positively to your children.
This sounds too simple. Will it work?
If there's anything that's come out of the scientific literature in the last 25 years, it's the importance of Comfort, Play & Teach with your children. Comfort is clearly supported by the research on attachment, depression, parenting style and discipline, which shows over and over that children do best in environments with high levels of warmth and positive regard and low levels of punitive/angry behaviour. Play, as documented in the research literature, is a critical aspect of learning to talk, becoming creative and getting along with others. And Teach is demonstrated over and over as crucial, not just for intellectual development, but for moral and ethical development as well.
Do I need to buy any special equipment?
Comfort, Play & Teach builds on the activities that you do every day with your child—no special equipment is required.
What specifically is Comfort, Play & Teach?
The Comfort, Play & Teach approach shows how each comfort, play or teach action by a parent leads to a predictable response from your infant or young child. And this is so much fun! You start something, your child picks it up, mulls it over, responds, and what a thrill for you! These Comfort, Play & Teach activities are geared to your child's age from birth to kindergarten. So you enrich your child appropriately as he grows and develops.
But I don't know what to do.
We have developed a whole series of practical, easy-to-do Comfort, Play & Teach activities and videos for you, based on the age and capabilities of your infant, toddler or preschooler. They turn everyday moments and routines into enriching experiences. Best of all, they help forge a strong bond with your child.
Is this complicated?
No. Comfort, Play & Teach are straightforward activities that can be applied across the board. You will quickly connect the dots and learn so much about how children grow and mature. Not just physically, but socially, emotionally and intellectually, too. You will be enhancing all aspects of your child’s development, with ever increasing knowledge, skills and confidence. And it is so easy!
Do I need to set aside time each day for Comfort, Play & Teach activities?
No. Thankfully, the beauty of Comfort, Play & Teach is that it is built on the naturally-occurring activities you already do with your baby, toddler or preschooler. It takes daily activities, such as eating, commuting, or bathing, and turns them into Comfort, Play & Teach moments.
What if I am not very good at comforting, playing with or teaching my child?
Most of these activities are so simple you don't have to be very talented at any of them in order to be successful. Anyway, most children are not harsh judges of their parents, and will likely be delighted with your efforts.
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What's your style of parenting? Barbara Coloroso, a creative parenting expert, came up with clear labels for the 3 basic styles of parenting.
|Also referred to as authoritarian,This style of parenting is inflexible, controlling and relies on discipline with punishments.|
|This is the permissive of parenting. It's supremely flexible and sets very few limits.|
|This style mixes flexibility with clear limits. This style of parenting allows children to form a moral sense of right and wrong. It allows them to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their actions. It also gives them options for solving problems. For many middle-class North American families, the backbone style of parenting is generally linked with children who do well in school and are able to resist peer pressure.|
Positive Parenting and Parenting Style
Positive Parenting is based on the Backbone style of parenting. The Positive Parenting approach requires consistency rather than rigidity. Your child's temperament, as well as your own, will make the Positive Parenting approach unique for your family.
With each unique family, Positive Parenting will look and feel very different. It isn’t a cookie cutter approach to parenting. Let's look at the Positive Parenting approach with children who have different temperaments.
The Passive Child:
If you have a fairly undemanding or passive child, you may not need to set very many limits. On the other hand, this child may need you to pay attention—even if he does not seem to need it. You will need to provide a much more stimulating environment to help him realize his potential.
The Active Child:
With an active child, you may find you need to provide a lot of limits and many more physical activities to take advantage of your child’s nature.
The Sensitive Child:
If you have a sensitive child, you may need to set your limits with quiet controls. An example of this is putting your finger to your lips when you want your child to settle down. Remember to keep your own emotions at a low level. Sensitive children often stop listening and are easily wounded when harsh tones or loud voices are used.
Here is some more information about using parenting styles.
What parenting style do you typically use? Do you and your partner use the same parenting style? Share your comments by leaving a comment below!
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