Cultivating a positive parenting approach will help children develop skills and learn appropriate ways of behaving. Positive parenting highlights the optimistic behavior points and magnifies the child’s good characteristics by celebrating them. This plants these good characteristics into their personality and helps them grow.
We must believe that there are no bad kids, just bad behaviors. Most people enjoy the company of a positive person, especially a positive parent.
I like to think of parenting as taking care of a seed. The three things every young seedling needs are soil, water, and sun. When a seed is securely rooted in the ground, its deep roots create resiliency. The hope is that after many years of hard work, the tiny seed matures. It is able to adapt and survive the freezing temperatures of winter and scorching temperatures of summer. The seed grows, little-by-little, season-by-season, and despite all the challenges, reaches its full potential. Like an anchor, roots are responsible for extracting minerals and water from the soil. The roots growing strong underground are invisible to the gardener’s eyes, but she’s optimistic. Although the leaves are small, they are firm and green. After years of tending, watering, and improving the soil, the young seedling grows up. That once-tiny seed is now a beautiful, abundant plant, with a well-developed root system.
How to care for your seedling:
There are three things every parent must do to have healthy, strong, and resilient seedlings, and that is water, soil, sun.
Healthy seeds begin with good soil. Before growing your seed, we have to start with the right ground. The seed-starting mix’s basic recipe is four parts compost, 1 part perlite, 1 part vermiculite, and two parts peat moss. A seed tucked directly into the soil shrinks or shoots wherever it’s planted. Depending on its environment and its quality of the soil—a young seedling will sprout when the conditions in the soil are suitably set. On the other hand, planting the seed too deep, watering too much or too little, and improper soil temperature are common mistakes seeds don’t germinate. The soil provides support, nutrients, protection from adverse temperatures, and an even supply of moisture. All seeds need to be within their preferred temperature range—not too hot or not too cold—for the germination process to carry on. Another component of plant growth is that seeds need oxygen around the roots. While balancing, good seed-to-soil contact is important.
Creating a safe and fun environment
When I think about soil, I can’t help but think about the home environment and boundaries of the parent. Creating a safe, exciting environment gives children a chance to explore, play, and develop their independent skills. This means we don’t have to hover over them all the time. And when a child is busy doing something they enjoy, parents can relax. As you know, this doesn’t happen as often as it should, so embrace it.
Key into what your kids are most interested in and what they like to do. Providing resources to encourage a child’s interests requires the parent to ask: What are their hobbies, passions, and strengths? What are their favorite music, books, movies, or TV shows? What are some things that make them feel happy?
No one knows your kids better than you, so learn what they’re most interested in to help them constructively occupy their time. As you know, idle time and boredom will most likely lead to mischief or misbehavior. So try to always know who they are with, where they are, and what they are doing at all times, no matter what age. Especially as they get a bit older and start to venture out.
Setting boundaries with realistic expectations
Children who grow up with positive parents are likely to feel good about themselves. The positive parent sets realistic expectations and understands children will not always be polite, happy, cooperative, tidy, or helpful. Parents with unrealistic expectations are only setting themselves up for disappointment and conflict with their children. We must remember that life isn’t perfect, so we shouldn’t expect our child to be. All children make mistakes and most are unintentional.
There are ups and downs to parenting, and to enjoy the ups, it’s essential to acknowledge that part of a child’s learning is from their environment. The general attitude of positive parenting is that there are more good behaviors than bad and you don’t need to be a perfect parent to enjoy it. Creating consistent boundaries, routines, and schedules will help your kids feel safe and secure.
A seedling needs the energy of the sun to produce nutrients. Without the sun, the young seed wouldn’t get the necessary food required to grow and survive. The warmth of the sun converts the soil nutrients and water into food. If a seedling doesn’t get enough light from the sun, the growth process slows down, even if it has sufficient water. Increasing light intensity will boost the speed of maturity. The light energy from the sun is an essential component to fuel the seed’s life-defining activities.
Growing positive relationships
If you were to ask any parent, “Do you love your child?”, most parents would answer, “Of course I do!” However, children not only need to hear the words, “I love you”, but also see your love in action. Like the sun, the parent’s warm and energetic presence impacts how a child behaves.
If the parent isn’t connecting in meaningful ways, the child’s defiance isn’t a discipline problem but rather a relationship problem. If the child doesn’t listen, follow your request or is hardened to your anger. Or if you regularly yell or give consequences, then your relationship with your child needs work.
Making a simple schedule change to spend more quality time with the child can strengthen the parental bond. Benefits of a close attachment bond include managing their feelings, behaviors, and social relationships with others. A deeply committed relationship between parent-and-child can influence children’s emotional well-being, emotional intelligence, resilience, and mental health. Finding time to play, whether that’s special time or just making yourself available, will reinforce the bonds too. The most profound reason kids cooperate is because of the connection they feel. The more love you give your child, the more love will be returned to you.
The next essential component of growing a healthy seed is water. For best results, ensure that you’re watering consistently. Underwatering, overwatering, or inconsistent watering will have negative effects. Overwatering or watering too frequently will stifle the roots’ development in the lower half of the pot. Underwatering or not watering frequently will lead to many dead root matter in the upper half of the pot. These roots will not be white, yellow, or brown and will be brittle to the touch. Inconsistent watering, sometimes too early and sometimes too late, will show lively and healthy roots, mostly in the soil’s middle layer in the pots. At the same time, the upper and lower layers will have fewer or healthy roots. The point is you want to water your plant consistently, not too much and not too little, to form healthy roots from the top of the pot to the lower bottom of the pot.
Nourishing growth through teaching
Just like watering a plant, every time you teach your child is nourishing. It allows them room for growth. Instructing, training and coaching are how parents teach preschoolers, adolescents and middle-schoolers the skills to “adult.” When children misbehave, the parent must coach the child on how to act in acceptable ways.
A good teacher is persistent, patient, and positive. They focus on how to teach the target behavior by reenacting it more appropriately. They reevaluate their behavior and plan how they will respond to the target behavior. A parent can use every tantrum as a learning experience. They think about what coping skills they will demonstrate and how they will manage their reactions when the child escalates. Forming a few interventions to teach, the parent role-plays, praises, and models the correct behavior while the child is calm and in control. While setting limits with kindness and mutual respect, the parent doesn’t try to control the child but shifts the focus on themselves. If the data says my child hits 5x a day, the parent must ask, “Where do I need to grow?” Changing baseline behavior is twofold: it works on interventions for the child, but also interventions for the parent.
Uses discipline, not punishment
The positive parent doesn’t turn to punishment as a quick fix but instead uses logical and natural consequences. If a child breaks a boundary, the logical and natural consequence is to stop, remove, or put away whatever it was that crossed a rule or limit. A few examples of logical consequences include: if the child hits, put away the game. If the child refuses to do their homework, remove the distracting cellphone. What about natural consequences? If the child forgets their homework at school, the natural consequence is to let the child face the teacher’s repercussions. If the child breaks their tablet, the natural consequence is to let them pay for a new tablet.
Punishments, such as time-outs, grounding, hitting, yelling, and threatening, do not teach the correct behavior. Instead, it harms the relationship between parent-and-child. Using discipline stops the parent from falling victim to the escalation trap. They do not yell or throw a tantrum like a child. They realize that a disciplinary response or reaction must be calm and regulated. While setting limits, their behavior is teaching, “This is how we react when we’re angry. I am kind, regardless of how you’re acting.”
Markham, L. (2012). Peaceful parent, happy kids: How to stop yelling and start connecting. New York, NY: Perigee Book.
Tsabari, S. (2016). The awakened family: How to raise empowered, resilient, and conscious children. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Markie-Dadds, C., Sanders, M. R., & Turner, K. M. (2003). Every parent’s family workbook. Milton, Qld.: Triple P Internat.
Positive parenting (PDF 1mb)