We hear the term ‘positive parenting’ bandied about, but in reality positive parenting seems elusive much of the time. It has been said that around 70% of parent communication towards children is negative, for example, “How many times have I told you not to hit Janey!” “Don’t squeeze Fluffy. You are making his eyes bug out!” “You haven’t cleaned your room properly!” “That’s a half-hearted attempt at setting the table!” or “That’s not washing your hands!” Granted, early childhood is the time when all basic training takes place and, therefore, copious instructions are given.
When we bring our first baby home, we feel very green as parents. We want our child to act perfectly in every way but we end up doing a lot of head scratching while trying to remember how our parents successfully handled us as infants!
HOW CAN WE MAKE TRAINING A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE?
Much of the early childhood years is in training our kids for life. The most powerful learning takes place when there is strong role modeling from parents. Then kids need to know what is expected of them. They need to be shown several times what to do and how to do it by the parent working alongside them. Children need time to practice with room for making mistakes or failing. They deserve praise for their efforts as they go, not just for the end result.
ARE YOU A NAGGING PARENT?
Negative parenting arises when we constantly nag our children. A positive directive, said once or twice at the most should be all that is necessary as kids reach 7 and older. When you nag the kids, you become annoying background noise and they know they have ‘x’ number of counts before you will issue a consequence for their lack of action. You can make it positive (assertive) or negative (weak) by the tone you use when asking your child to do something.
HOW TO GET POSITIVE RESULTS WHEN TRAINING YOUR CHILDREN
- Give clear instructions.
- Model the behavior you are looking for.
- Show them what to do.
- Give them encouragement as they get it right.
- Recognize readiness in your child’s ability to follow instructions. Potty training, learning to walk and learning to manage a spoon and fork are perfect examples.
THE PRESSURE ON TODAY’S YOUNG PARENTS
Young parents often feel pressured because their friends’ children are developing at different ages, stages and speeds to theirs. When Jen’s baby is walking before Sue’s baby at the same age, Sue starts to worry. Most parents work when their babies are only months old, thus the infant is being handled by a number of other adults. Their differing expectations as the child reaches understanding can be confusing to a child.
WHAT CREATES A POSITIVE HOME ENVIRONMENT?
- A tidy, uncluttered, light and airy environment
- Laughter, praise, encouragement.
- Projects, sports and/or other activities where the family supports one another.
- Clear, well-stated family values that the whole family participate in.
- Everyone doing an equal number of chores so they can then go out and have fun.
- Parental surveillance of the general mood of the home environment and rooting out any dissatisfaction quickly.
- Regular family meetings where every member is involved in contributing positively to the family in general.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.