So many parents fear that positive parenting equals permissive parenting, and it is everything but the truth.
Positive parenting is about giving children what they need; it is not about giving them what they want.
Pro tip: when you know you’re giving your children everything they need – you are so much less likely to be inclined to give them what they want 🙂
What do Children Need?
Everything that we do stems from our needs and feelings. When our needs are met, our feelings are pleasant, and pleasant behaviors follow. When our needs are not met, our feelings are not as pleasant, and unpleasant behaviors follow.
Behavioral theories and solutions fail to address the core reason for what children do, and hence – never really solve any problem. If you’re reading this – you know this already. On the other hand, positive parenting keeps you and your child connected, and connection is an existential human need. Without it – we cannot survive.
Positive Parenting and Emotional Well-Being
Imagine your child running into the busy street.
There are two ways to go about it:
- Judging her behavior, believing she is a bad kid, scolding her for what she did.
- Protecting her, knowing that she has no fundamental understanding of what she did, connecting with her to prevent future incidents of this sort.
Your reaction, in both cases, would look the same – you’d run and grab her to remove her from the street. But the motivation in your heart will change everything else.
You will probably guilt and shame her for her action in the first option, leaving her feeling confused, lonely, and disconnected.
With the second option, you’d kneel, connect her to your heart by explaining how afraid you are for her, and explain to her (again) why running into the street is not something you can allow.
She’d feel loved, seen, connected, secure, and will know that you forever have her back.
Can you sense the difference?
Six Positive Parenting Solutions for Everyday Parenting Challenges
Now let’s look into the challenges most parents face daily and how these positive parenting solutions will change how you address these.
What to do when your child hits?
Violence is not allowed; we all know that. Kids know that, too. So why do they still do it?
Kids hit upon impulse; kids don’t have the impulse control needed to stop them from hitting; for this reason – repeating “no hitting” or punishing them for hitting will never work. It won’t miraculously bring forth their impulse control.
Remember we said that everything comes from needs and feelings?
If your child hits – look for the underlying needs that brought him to it. Validate his feelings. When he feels seen and heard, show his that he’s love. The more you do this – the less he will feel the urge to hit.
Positive discipline comes from within, and then you know that you REALLY instilled the value.
What to do when your child screams?
Just like hitting, your kid knows screaming is not allowed. But, what can he do if he’s feeling so unheard? You do it, too, don’t you? Raise your voice when you don’t feel heard? That’s what your child does, too.
Meet that need. Make your child feel seen and heard so that he won’t need to scream to get your connection.
What to do when your child kicks you?
Unlike the “regular hitting”, children usually use their legs when their bodies can no longer contain their emotions. Be it anger or frustration, these have to be released – somehow. See the needs and validate the feelings behind these active legs, and offer a different outlet.
What to do when your child is in a throwing mood?
Throwing objects is another strategy to meeting needs of autonomy and agency; when kids get frustrated with us not allowing, stopping them from something, or generally going against their current state of mind, objects are often thrown upon impulse.
I can relate to that. Can you? I wish I could throw a plate now and then to see and hear it scattering all over the floor. Just the mere writing of these words feels so lovely, I’ll admit 🙂
And this is exactly what I’d tell a child who wants to throw things. See him, meet him where he is. I’ll talk about what made him feel out of control, validate that feeling (because we probably did disallow something) and connect him to the value behind it. If he then still wants to throw things, we’ll go together and take things we can throw outside. This is a beautiful calming and connecting activity.
What to do when your child is all over you, climbing and grabbing?
If describing the plate in the previous paragraph made me feel great, just writing this title made me cringe. I hate it, too. But I know where it comes from – it comes from the need for physical validation, the need to be close, the need to feel one, even when we’re not. There’s no need or feeling more valid than this one. So what can you do? Take the control back to you and hold your child closer and stronger. Do it often so that he won’t feel the need to.
What do you when your child calls you names?
Whether it’s you or anyone else, name-calling is not allowed, but kids do it to regain a sense of power or to strike back. Now, words have power, but we are the ones giving them power.
If we don’t empower bad words, they will lose their lucrative feeling.
Try to imagine why your child said what he had said, and talk to them about that. The words they used are irrelevant; if you meet the needs behind these words, you’ll never hear them again.
There is a positive parenting solution to every situation, and unlike behavioral approaches, these solutions will leave you and your children close, connected, and with a profound understanding of each others’ needs.