The Power of Positive Parenting

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 05:22pm
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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. 

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.

Do you have questions about Positive Parenting? Visit our Positive Parenting FAQs page for more information or Ask and Expert

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Reflective Parenting

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 05:28pm
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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?

  1. Prior to a situation: ask yourself some reflective questions before you intervene with your child.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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Using Parenting Styles

by Maxine
Posted May 12 2011 12:02pm
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We recommend the Positive Parenting approach, which is based on the authoritative or backbone style of parenting. The Positive Parenting approach will not look the same for every family. Your child’s temperament, as well as your own, will make the Positive Parenting approach unique for your family.

Look at how The Positive Parenting approach might be used in the following scenarios. Read the scenario and then think about what your answer to the question might be. Then read on to see what our experts have to say about these situations.

Scenario One

Tina and Mario’s son, Anthony is 3 ½ months old and they are finally starting to understand this little person. Tina has notice that Anthony gets easily upset in new surroundings. Mario has noticed that Anthony startles very easily around noise and particularly with his grandfathers’ and uncles’ loud voices. They have both noticed that Anthony lets them know with vigorous crying when he is hungry, cold, bored or has a soiled diaper. Using the Positive Parenting approach, what strategies might they use to parent Anthony?

Expert Feedback

  • Anthony appears to be a sensitive baby who is more emotionally intense. They need to respond to the cues he gives them promptly such as when he is hungry, cold or has soiled diapers. Responding to his cues promptly will help make him feel loved and secure.
  • When they do respond to his cues, talking to him about what they are doing will help to build his language skills. “I know you are upset when you have a wet diaper. Let’s go change it right now.”
  • When they take him to new surroundings they should comfort him by cuddling or staying close to him to help make him feel secure.
  • They may want to prepare him in advance for new events or places by telling him what to expect; or gradually introducing him to new people, such as when they use a babysitter.
  • Playing with him and changing the tone of their voices will help to gradually show Anthony that he does not need to fear loud voices. They need to be aware that if they use a raised voice it will frighten him.

Scenario Two

Siobahn and Paddy have a 5-month-old daughter named Kerrie. Kerrie is an active baby and has been since the day she was born. When she is awake she is frequently wiggling or babbling. She is very interested in her environment and reaches out for things that are close by. She has learned to roll over and already rolls off her play center blanket and towards the family dog, no matter where the dog lays. Siobahn and Paddy constantly have to keep an eye on her even when she is in her infant chair on the floor. She is very persistent and is not easily distracted once she becomes interested in something. Using the Positive Parenting approach, what strategies might they use to parent Kerrie?<!--?p-->

Expert Feedback

  • Since Kerrie is an active baby, who appears to have temperament traits of activity, persistence and distractability, it will be important that her parents provide a safe place for Kerrie to play and explore.
  • Comfort her when she becomes frustrated with activities that she can not yet do.
  • Be patient as she will want to continue to practice new skills as she learns them, such as rolling over towards the family dog. She will want to do this again, again and again.
  • Using firm limits and being consistent with these limits will be important, such as with the family dog.
  • Provide Kerrie with physical activities that will help to keep her engaged. Get down and play with Kerrie as she explores her environment whether it is on the living room floor, or the grass in the park.

Scenario 3

Carlos and Juanita have found their 6-month-old daughter Carmel to be an easygoing child. Carmel rarely fusses and is very regular in her eating and sleeping routines. She adapts to any change easily and just quietly watches when she is placed in a different setting. Now that she is older, she stills prefers watching even when she is with her slightly older cousins who she sees on a regular basis. Juanita and Carlos have found Carmel’s quiet easy going nature is very different than their own more extroverted and active temperaments. Using the Positive Parenting approach what strategies might they use to parent Carmel?

Expert Feedback

  • Since Carmel has quieter approach, a lower activity level and an ease in adapting, her parents may have to provide her with activities that will engage her so she can reach her full potential.
  • They may need to take the initiative to help her explore the setting she is in, her toys and her books etc. by actively playing with her. They may need to acknowledge and encourage her when she does explore, or when she plays with toys or other children on her own.
  • They should continue to comfort and cuddle her so that she feels loved and valued.

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Positive Parenting and Comfort, Play & Teach FAQs

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 03:26pm
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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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Take Your Temperament
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You can use a variety of Comfort, Play & Teach strategies that are tailored to different temperament traits.
Read More »
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase Positive Parenting? Positive Parenting is the approach to parenting that we believe best supports all aspects of healthy child development.
Read More »
Although your mirror cannot reflect words and ideas, there are mirror-like skills you can use to accomplish the same task—Reflective Parenting.
Read More »

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