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Positive Parenting: Strategies for Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

written by Dr. Jennie Gary

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Hi. I’m Doctor Jennie with Kid’s Corner.

Today, I will be talking about something called ‘positive parenting’.

If you’re watching this, you know that parenting can be challenging. Trying to figure out how to do it well is hard. But just by thinking about how to be a good parent, you’re already on the right path.

Today, we will review some of the cornerstones of positive parenting.

To start, it’s important to create a safe and supportive environment for your child.

It’s not possible to give your child too much love. Children thrive with lots of love and attention. Showing affection is very beneficial to a child.

To help children feel safe and secure, it’s important to provide a stable home environment. This can mean following a clear routine and always communicating with your child about what their day will be like and who will pick them up.

Even if your child spends time between two different homes, following the same rules and routines in each of their homes will help them feel secure.

Routines help to delineate clear expectations for the day and for your child’s responsibilities, which in turn helps to reduce fear and anxiety and ultimately makes your child feel more in control of their day.

Next, creating clear boundaries is another important cornerstone of effective parenting.

Having understandable rational rules for your family helps teach children about societal norms and helps them gain the behavioral skills they need to be successful in school, relationships, and life.

So, here are some tips.

Set clear rules, expectations, and consequences.

Discipline does not mean punishment. It means setting boundaries.

Discipline should be fair and focused on teaching logical consequences.

For example, you threw your legos all over the floor so now we will have to clean them up together so that no one steps on a piece and gets hurt. If you throw the legos on the floor again, we will have to put them away for another day.

Never use physical consequences like hitting or spanking as they send the wrong message to your child about how to handle their problems.

When kids know what the rules are, it can help them feel safe and it can also help kids learn self-control and prepare them to do well in social settings outside your home.

Follow through with consequences.

Maybe you’ve warned your child that they don’t get to watch a movie if they don’t first clean up their room. Kids may try to test the limits that their parents have set. But following through with consequences right away and not playing that movie until they’ve cleaned up their room, shows them that you’re serious about what you expect.

Learn where to be flexible at the same time. Giving your child options about how to meet some expectations may work better than a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.

For example, you may expect your child to get dressed before school. You can be firm about this rule, but you might be able to be flexible about when the getting dressed happens as long as it happens, of course, before you need to leave the house.

Praise good behavior. Look for chances to compliment behavior that you want to see instead of only criticizing the behavior you don’t. This can be hard to remember at times, but this type of positive reinforcement is very effective in children.

Children yearn for our attention so giving praise often will only teach children to keep doing those positive behaviors.

Unfortunately, when we give big reactions to bad behaviors, children actually might continue those bad behaviors just as an effort to gain your attention.

Remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes. You know what your child needs to be safe, happy, and healthy.

If your child wants to have something, do something, or go somewhere that you don’t agree with, you can say no. And if you don’t like using the word no often, then you can try offering alternatives instead of saying no.

For example, if your child asks to have candy for breakfast, you can say, candy isn’t on the menu for breakfast today, but we do have strawberries and waffles, or oatmeal with bananas, you can choose.

Another important cornerstone of effective parenting is open communication.

Talk to your children often. Ask open-ended questions. Ask about their feelings and validate any emotions they may have. Try your best not to diminish their feelings with comments like it’s “no big deal” or “stop crying”.

Treat your child with respect.

Listen carefully and reflect back what your child says to you. This helps your child gain your trust and also helps them follow directions better.

Teach younger children about honesty.

Discuss what telling the truth and honesty mean and why they’re important.

Talk about the difference between real and make believe.

Help your child understand the benefits of honesty as a way to build trust with others.

Teach your child why it’s important for people to be able to trust their word and point out examples of honesty in others.

Praise your child for telling the truth even if they made a mistake.

Next, another cornerstone of effective parenting is to foster your child’s sense of independence and support their interests.

Start by letting your child help with simple chores. Like throwing away their trash, cleaning their room, setting the table, or maybe sorting socks when you’re folding laundry.

Give them opportunities like this to help with household chores, and this helps develop their sense of responsibility.

Give your child opportunities to make choices too. Like what to wear, which healthy snack to choose, or what book to read.

Encourage your child to play with others.

Help teach them the importance of sharing, taking turns, and being kind to others.

Support your child in taking on new challenges. Encourage them to solve their own problems and try to resist the urge to immediately jump in to solve or fix their problems for them.

Learning how to come up with their own solutions fosters creative, independent thinking, and boosts your child’s self-esteem.

Encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular events through their school or community. This can be sports, arts, clubs, or volunteering.

Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of modeling good behavior.

Let your child see you being kind to others. If you had a hard day, verbalize that to show your child how to deal with frustration, anger, or sadness.

For example, you can tell your child, “This morning at work, it seemed like nothing was going my way and I felt really disappointed. I decided to take a five-minute break and then I felt much better.”

Or if you’re feeling angry by your child’s behavior, try to take a pause before you yell at them. Say, “I’m feeling really upset right now, and I’m gonna go in the other room for one minute to take a deep breath to calm down. I will be right back after that to help you.”

If you do accidentally yell at your child once in a while, it’s okay. Once you’re feeling calm, talk to them about it. It’s okay to apologize to your child. This is good modeling.

As parents, we don’t have to be perfect all the time. Children actually learn how to deal with their emotions, failures and disappointments better by learning how you deal with your own. The most important thing to remember is that parenting is a process. Be patient and persistent, and your efforts will be rewarded.

I’m Doctor Jennie, and thanks for watching another episode of Kid’s Corner.

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