I wake up happy and go to bed happy.
I always look for the silver lining or the bright side of things.
However, I am a mum of two and with that responsibility comes a great sacrifice; my patience and positivity.
Now my happiness relies almost entirely on how strong my coffee is...how many times it had to be reheated and why...whether I had to repeat myself half a dozen times and the only thing that could have possibly made my day positive was if the cleaning fairy paid a visit, took all the mess away with her and left some coins (or notes!).
Of course my children bring me joy and happiness. Seeing them after a long day makes everything better, makes everything sweeter and makes everything worth it. But it's not always fairies and unicorns and glitter. Some days are rough. And it is those days that really test my patience and unleash the negative, angry, complaining, grouchy mummy - that doesn't help though. So I have adopted a new mentality and a new way of parenting. And I hereby invite you, O'reader to embark on this journey of positive parenting with me. To either watch me succeed or fail. Either way, it'll be a learning experience for the both of us.
Let's start with the basics, what does Positive Parenting actually mean?
Positive Parenting aims to teach children lessons through rewards and not punishments. It's about responding instead of reacting. Easy, right? Wrong. It's actually very difficult. We as humans are very emotional people and sometimes those emotions take control of our actions. And so to suddenly pause and think before you react to your child's misbehavior is much harder than you think. But with practice and lots and lots and lots of patience, it does get easier.
So how do you start?
Plan One-on-One Time
Firstly, think about how your day usually goes, what part of your day can you spend with your child and really interact with them without interruptions from your phone or siblings or anything else. Give your entire attention to your child and watch them flourish through this act alone.
You two can:
- Read a book (ask a lot of questions as you read to your child, let them turn the pages)
- Play a game (Play a game that takes you out of your comfort zone, be silly, be funny and enjoy yourself)
- Draw or colour in (Have some peaceful, quiet time with your child, ask them about their drawing)
- Cook or bake (Include them in the cooking process within the boundaries of safety but so much so that they feel grown up)
- Watch a movie (Watch a movie while asking questions about the plot, ask your child about the character's feelings etc.)
There are plenty of other activities you can do with your child, but the main thing is to be there actively asking questions and really interacting with your child and having some meaningful one-on-one time.
Rewards Work Better Than Punishments
I was very skeptical when I heard about this part, how can rewards teach a child a lesson? What if they misbehave? Do I have to reward them then too?
It'd be illogical to reward your child when they misbehave so I'm not asking you to do that, I'm simply saying reward them when they do behave or even when they don't misbehave. There is a difference between behaving well and not misbehaving, and both should be rewarded. I'll give you an example.
Behaving well - Your child plays in their room quietly and cleans it all up when they're done
Not misbehaving - Your child plays in their room quietly
Misbehaving - Your child refuses to play nicely and throws their toys around causing them to break
As you can see, behaving well should be rewarded but so should not misbehaving, but to a certain extent.
Here are some great reward ideas for when your child is behaving well
- Star charts
- Progress charts
- Privileges (TV Time, iPad Time etc)
- Activities (Parks, Playgrounds, Ice Cream etc)
And when your child is simply not misbehaving it is absolutely crucial for you to acknowledge that by praising them and telling them that you like that behaviour, giving them a hug or kiss works great too. Your child needs to know that they can get your attention by means other than misbehaving.
I think I might have mentioned this before in a previous post but I will list it here too, active listening is such a powerful tool if used correctly. It is used when your child is throwing a tantrum and you want to control the situation and find out what exactly has caused it. It is about getting to the root of the problem and really understanding your child's feelings and concerns.
It works by staying calm, getting down to their eye level, and quietly and clearly asking your child what is wrong. It is at this point that you must try and find out the cause and actively listening to your child so that you both may find a solution that works for you. Talk about feelings and listen to your child and guide them as they try and explain why they're upset. You may be surprised to find that the problem was minor all along and easily avoidable. Your child might be refusing to sleep, they might be screaming and crying and it can be very tempting for you to walk in there and lose your marbles and scream and shout back. But active listening instructs us to walk to your child, sit by them and through talking to them quietly you might find that actually they just lost their bedtime toy and were feeling anxious about sleeping without it. And when you eventually find that teddy under their mountain of toys they fall asleep effortlessly. Had you lost it and stormed out you never would have found out the cause and it could have been a very rough night for both of you.
Stop Saying No!I know what you're thinking, has she lost it! How can we stop saying no?
I don't mean you say yes to everything. I mean change the way you phrase things when speaking to your child. Try to use more positive instead of negative language.
"Don't drop that glass!"
"Be Careful! Hold that glass tight"
"Stop crying! You're being a baby!"
"You look upset, What happened? Do you want a hug?"
It takes a lot of practice but the results are astonishing. I am yet to perfect it and like I said I am finding it very hard, but it is a learning process and we will get there eventually.
You can't teach your children to behave better by making them feel worse. When children feel better they behave better.
I'd love to know what your thoughts are, have you tried this approach, did it work for you? Leave a comment below!