There are many different phrases for the same basic guideline. Positive discipline is also known as positive parenting, or even gentle guidance.
Positive parenting is about recognizing your child as a unique individual, guiding them through their life without damaging their individuality as you help to set up their moral compass while they grow.
There may have once been a time where children were meant to be seen and not heard, but that time has passed, and this is no longer the case.
With a positive outlook, you’re recognizing your child as a unique individual. The first rule of positive parenting is that you have to believe that your child wants to keep an open line of communication with you and you just need to encourage it.
You’ll listen to your child and discuss what is happening with your child so that they will learn to self-regulate their behavior.
Threats of spanking and discipline only go so far unless you can connect to your child on an emotional level. Learning more about self-regulate here.
The Important Keys to Positive Parenting
The first thing that you need to know about positive parenting is that you need to be clear about what you want and expect from your child.
There are keys to positive parenting that will unlock the door to a better highway of communication with your child, allowing them the opportunity to go above and beyond your expectations.
There are dos and don’t(s), but with these keys and strategies found in this book, positive parenting is within your reach.
Being Firm & Consistent
It’s important that you stay firm and consistent with your child because then you are able to set clear limits and boundaries with your child without giving them a mixed message.
Mixed messages will encourage misbehavior and rattle your child’s faith in what you’re telling them.
Disagreements are Opportunity
To use positive parenting effectively, then you need to view a disagreement as an opportunity to connect with your child. Growing up, your child needs to develop negotiation skills, reasoning, and even develop problem-solving skills.
Each disagreement is an opportunity for your child to grow as a person, and with gentle guidance and positive parenting, you can make sure that your child grows in maturity and self-dependence.
Making Your Requests
As a parent, it is your right to demand certain things from your child, such as proper behavior. However, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and raising a child is no different.
With positive parenting, you need to know how to make a request of your child to do something, and with them developing the proper reasoning skills and problem solving skills.
Then they’ll learn to view your request as reasonable. A child is more likely to behave if they feel that you’re in the right than if they are only following you because you ordered them to do so as their parent.
If your child doesn’t believe in your requests, they will misbehave given the opportunity.
Take Your Time & Be Patient
With raising your child, you need to learn patience, and with positive parenting there is no exception. You need to be able to be patient with your child, and don’t expect anything to happen overnight.
Knowing the keys to gentle guidance, the seven strategies to positive parenting, and making sure that you stay patient while learning these new ways to communicate with your child will give you the keys you need to your success.
There will be times that communication is difficult and frustrating, but as the parent you need to have the ability to keep your emotions in check so that you don’t close the door of communication.
Do not yell, do not get too frustrated, and never let your own emotions get the best of you.
“Because I said so” is never a good answer, and you have to be able to treat your child as a unique, reasonable individual if you want to be able to watch them grow into their own.
Strategy #1 - Allowing Minor Misbehavior
The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that each and every child will go through a phase or period where they misbehave. This will never be completely gone.
There will be times that your child does not behave perfectly. No one is perfect, and your child can’t be held to an impossible standard or they will not see a value in holding themselves up to a standard they feel that they’ll never be able to meet.
Always keep in mind that your child does want to behave. They do want to be a good kid, and they do want to make you proud. If they feel they feel they can never achieve this or that they will continuously let you down, then they will eventually give up like every other person.
This is why you must allow for minor misbehavior without a negative reaction each and every time.
Knowing what to Ignore
You need to know what constitutes as ‘minor’ misbehavior. There are times to ignore this behavior, but only if it isn’t dangerous to your child.
For example, if you have a toddler and they throw food on the floor, then this can be ignored. If you are raising a preteen and they slam the door, you can ignore this.
Do not respond to it. If you respond to it, then you are teaching your child that this is the way to get you to react.
If you respond to these minor outbreaks of misbehavior, then your child can start to associate them with a way to get you to react, to get under your skin, and to get you to listen to them. Instead, you need to respond to positive behavior.
Wait for your child to calm down and try to open the doors of communication. Do not give your child attention due to their misbehavior.
There are positive parenting reactions that you can have without entering into this cycle, which you’ll learn about below.
Positive Parenting Reactions
Silence is golden through most minor misbehavior(s). There’s no reason to even recognize that it’s happening.
Do not give your child any attention at all, but there are times that you really can’t stay silent when your child continues to act out in what seems to be a reoccurring pattern.
There are ways to gently remind your child that this behavior will not get them what they want from you and that communication is an option.
A child will get emotionally flustered just like an adult, and the difference is that most of the time they will not know how to handle it.
There are many times that you can just ignore the misbehavior and wait for your child to emotionally calm down so that they can reason out everything that is going through their heads so that they can approach the situation a little more maturely from the example that you set.
However, there are some phrases that you can use to help your child to get into this mindset a little easier as well.
A Few Phrases
Here are a few phrases that you can use to make sure that you are reminding your children that this negative behavior won’t get them anywhere.
Remind them that they are expected to calm down, but you’ll be able to talk to them when they’re ready. They need to know that you’re willing to talk when they are behaving properly.
This will make them feel better about calming down because they do want to communicate.
Gently find a way to remind your child that only positive behavior will get them the results they’re looking for. Each child will react to different phrases differently.
If you find a phrase that works, then start to use it a little more. Just remember to never put your child down, and do not engage in a conversation until they’re calm no matter what they respond with.
Otherwise, you’ll be engaging the bad behavior.
- “I’ll talk to you when you’re calmer.”
- “I expect better from you.”
- “We won’t talk until you are more rational.”
- “It’s okay. I’ll wait for you to get in control of your emotions.”
Strategy #2 - Misbehavior Prevention
You now know how to handle misbehavior when it happens, and you even know what misbehavior is safe to let go and what needs to be addressed. However, you can usually prevent misbehavior as well.
There’s no need to wait for it to happen. Take an active role in your child’s behavior with gentle guidance.
Always pay attention to your child, making sure that you learn their triggers. No child wants to be a bad kid. Children are not as emotionally stable or reasonable as adults are, and even an adult has a trigger.
Identify the Triggers:
When you can identify some of these triggers, then you already know that your child is more prone to having a meltdown, which will encourage bad behavior. There are ways that you can help your child even if they are experiencing these triggers.
You can even plan in advance to try to avoid these triggers, especially if you are dealing with a young child. If you are dealing with a toddler, for example, then you can make sure that they aren’t acting out because of hunger because you can make sure that they eat on a relatively normal schedule.
However, if you’re dealing with a teenager, this can be a little harder to do. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however.
You can still make sure that dinner is on time and that you always have something in the house to eat for breakfast and lunch that they’re okay with eating. If they’re tired, make sure that you set a bedtime while you can.
If they’re stressed, make sure that you have room for open dialogue in your home. Make sure that they are able to talk about what is stressing them out, and make sure that they know that they can come to you to talk out any problem.
This can help to alleviate the meltdowns that are caused by these triggers.
Phrases to Help Afterwards
If you know that your child is acting out because of triggers but there was no way to prevent it beforehand or it’s just too late now, then there are phrases you can use to help reason with your child.
This is easier to do with children that are in their pre-teens or older. Just remind them that they are misdirecting their anger and aggravation, keeping in mind that your child does actually want to behave.
- "You need to calm down. You aren’t really angry.”
- “You’re just reacting poorly because of (fill in the blank).”
- “You’ll feel better after (fill in the blank with food, sleep, etc.).”
- “I can tell that you’re stressed out, but you’re better than this.”
- “It’s okay to be stressed, but you can handle it better.”
- “If you have a problem, you can talk about it with me.”
These phrases will gently remind your child that you know that they’re grumpy or misbehaving, but that you know that they’re capable of better and expect it from them. When your child believes that they can meet your expectations, then they’ll want to strive to do so.
If they feel as if you’re just condemning them due to poor behavior, then they’ll see no reason to improve. You need to guide your child to recognizing their own triggers, and this can prevent poor behavior in the future.
They’ll eventually start to realize their own triggers and try to calm themselves down. This usually happens with age, and you can’t expect them to know these triggers immediately.
Strategy #3 - Spending Quality Time
Your child will always go through times when they feel alone in the world, and not every child has an easy time making friends.
Even with friends, they need to know that they have someone at home that loves them, cares about them, and wants to connect with them.
That’s the job of the parent, to not only be a guiding factor, but to be a friend when you can. This isn’t always possible, but a healthy and happy relationship with your child is.
One on one time is important to have with your child, and it’ll help to improve their behavior.
You don’t want to smother your child as they grow up, but when your child is younger, it’s easier to have one on one time on a daily basis.
However, as your child grows, you may want to give them a little more space to develop their individuality and independence.
Children crave attention, and when you spend quality time with them, you are giving them the positive attention that they need.
Even if you can only spend twenty to thirty minutes a day with your child, it’s important that you make this time for them.
Some Ways to Do It
There are many ways to spend quality time with your children, and if you are doing it on a weekly basis, you can try and do something like game night or movie night. Remember that movie night will need to be more than just a movie.
It’s important that you have face to face interaction. Take them with you to the grocery store, take them with you shopping for clothing, go for a small walk with your child to get into a healthy routine while giving them time to talk to you.
Even brewing a cup of tea with your child and sitting down to drink it in the morning can make all the difference.
When you’re trying to find something to do with your child, it’s easy to find a movie that you’re wanting to watch. Just don’t take them to the theater. At least not most of the time.
You don’t want to sit in a dark place where talking is prohibited. Part of the plan should be getting ready for the moving, opening dialogue, and having something in common to talk about for that week.
This will make your child feel a little closer to you.
Family Game Night
Family game night is great if you’re a single parent or even if you have a large family. There are always games that you can play, and they can be anything from board games to table top games all the way to video games.
When you’re having fun, you are giving your child positive attention which reinforces positive behavior. You’re also opening a playful dialogue with your child, allowing them to see you as a friend and not just a stern parent.
This will help your child to see you as something more than just an authority figure in their life that they can’t connect with.
It doesn’t actually have to be poetry, but you’ll find that there is always something that you can share during the week.
It can be something that they created, a drawing, a piece of poetry, a short story, or just a sharing night where you tell crazy stories that happened to you that week.
You can even make stuff up, but the important part is the dialogue that you’re creating while giving your child positive attention that they can look forward to throughout the week.
There is always a class that you can take with your child. This can be a painting class, a poetry class, a sculpting class, or anything that your child is interested in.
You can even go play paintballs with your child if you’re a more active family, but having something scheduled every week to go to, keeps them active in the family while equating spending time with you as fun and something that they will want to behave for.
The most important thing to remember about this idea is that you should never force it to be something that your child has no interest in.
If you do, then it will become a negative association, and your child will act out during the event or before it to try to get out of it or show their disinterest.
Eating dinner is a necessity, and there’s no reason to go to different rooms to do so or to rush through a meal. You can take time to enjoy your meal, talk about the food, and discuss your days.
Dinner with the family is something that your child should be able to look forward to. Do not use dinner to discuss issues, and do not use dinner to force your child to talk.
Just try to keep an open dialogue and be encouraging, and this can become a quality time activity to help you on your way to positive parenting.
If you are trying to instill healthy habits into your child, taking time to go on a small walk, even for just a few blocks to a mile will help. Jogging and running can help as well, but walking can get your child into the activity without them feeling as if you’re forcing them into something.
Fresh air can also help your child to relieve some of the stress that they’re feeling. They will eventually associate this habit with being able to talk to you or relieve their stress in a healthy manner.
This can be anything from grocery shopping to shopping in the supermarket. You may not go shopping each and every day, but there is usually an errand or two that you have to run.
Take your child with you, but make sure that they don’t feel forced. If you don’t have an errand to run, ask your child if there is somewhere that they want to go.
They may want to go to the library, the park, look through a video game store, or look for clothes.
By asking what they wanted to do, you’re giving your child something they’ve wanted while also reminding them that you can be a positive part of their life.
It really can be this simple. You don’t have to do anything fancy. If your child likes hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, then have some ready and talk for ten to fifteen minutes.
This will give them time to goof around with you, or it can give them the time they need to talk about something that is bothering them.
Don’t hog the conversation, and try to keep your child talking about a subject they would like to discuss.
Strategy #4 - Providing Labeled Praises
It is well known that if a behavior gets attention, then that behavior is something that your child will choose to repeat. Tis is why you should only give attention to the behavior that you want to continue.
What most people don’t’ realize is that if you even punish or reprimand bad behavior too much, then it is still more likely to be repeated because it was given some form of attention.
On the other hand, if you label your praises of behavior that you do want your child to repeat, then it’s likely that the behavior will be repeated more often as well. Do not just praise your child indiscriminately.
You need to make sure that you are praising your child only for something that you want them to do again.
Dangers of Empty Praises
There are many dangers to empty praises, but the biggest one is that you are overpraising your child making the words meaningless. If you are constantly telling your child that they are doing well at everything, then they won’t feel that it means much.
A child should work at what they do. Not just expect everything that they do to turn out well. There are some phrases that are just meaningless.
Another danger of empty praises, is that you can make your child start to rely on this praise to feel good about themselves.
A healthy child doesn’t need you to praise what they do to feel as if they can do something properly or well. A child should have self-confidence and be aware that they don’t have to be perfect but can perfect what they’re doing.
A child should not rely on your evaluation, your praise, and your approval. They need to approve of what they’re doing themselves.
You can also make it where your child doesn’t want to continue. If you praise them often about what they’re doing, such as painting, then they will want to continue painting as long as they are getting that praise.
The moment that you stop praising them as much as you did before, then they will withdraw their interest even if they had a talent in the area.
You can even reduce the amount of achievement that your child feels that they are having because you’re constantly watching their progress.
An empty praise will make them feel as if they’re doing well, but when they see an issue with their work, they will only get frustrated instead of trying to figure out what could be wrong with it because you already told them that it was fine.
This will not help your child to develop self-criticism which is healthy when done in moderation. It is what will make your child improve.
Empty Praise Examples
When looking at these praises, you’ll notice that none of them are specific or labeled. You’re just telling your child something that is empty of meaning.
If you’re telling your child that they’re doing a good job, they should know what’s making them do a good job. If you just encourage them by telling them that they’re doing great, there should be a reason why.
Empty praises will not give your child the guidance that they need to better themselves.
- Good job.
- You’re doing great.
- That’s perfect.
- Excellent work.
Labeling Your Praises
When you label your praises, you’ll be able to teach your child that they are doing something right without trying to convince them that it’s perfect. This will teach them that they can do something well while still having room to improve.
By praising your child, you area also reaffirming positive behavior. Subconsciously, a child will remember this and they will seek to repeat the behavior that enabled them to get a praise.
You don’t just have to praise a child on activities, either. You can praise them directly on their behavior in a situation as well.
For example, if your child is handling a stressful situation maturely, then tell them that you appreciate the way they’re approaching the situation or that they’re keeping their voice calm during the argument.
This will reaffirm the behavior, encouraging them to repeat it later.
Labeled Praise Examples
Here are a few labeled praises that you can use and build from, but make sure to never just use a generic praise from the list.
Personalize it so that it is accurate in the situation and clearly states the behavior that you would like your child to repeat or continue.
Each of the praises below is specific so that your child can identify what they did right quickly.
- You’re doing well with controlling your anger.
- You’re studying hard for that test, and it shows.
- I appreciate that you’re doing so well with your own bedtime.
- I’m proud of you for putting so much effort into your schoolwork.
- You really worked out your own problem smoothly.
- Your perseverance is astonishing lately.
- I believe all of your hard work is really paying off.
- Your work ethic really shows in that school project.
Strategy #5 - Setting & Sticking to Family Rules
Another important positive parenting strategy is making sure that family rules are clear and precise. You need to set the rules, but you also need to stick to them.
Show your child that everyone plays by the rules to make a strong, happy family unit. There is the method of the 3 R’s. These are Rules, Reasons, and Results.
You will use this method to set down family rules that your child will follow.
The 3 R’s
The first R is for rules, and it is a specific instruction that you’ll give your child. Make sure that it is as straightforward and easy to understand as possible.
Make sure that you use a vocabulary that your child can understand. When you go to the store with your child, for example, make sure that they understand the behavior that you expect from them.
Say something like: “I want you to stay by my side, and make sure that you don’t climb, yell, or pick up anything without permission.” These are all using simple words that your child can understand, and your rule is extremely specific.
If a child knows exactly what is expected of them, then they’re more likely to follow the rule properly.
The next R is for reasons, and you shouldn’t just expect your child to listen to you because you’re an adult. This will not help their reasoning skills or their judgment.
You are meant to guide your child, and to do that they need to trust that you have their best interests at heart or a reason for what they view as madness most of the time.
For example, if you don’t want your child to borrow something from you, give a reason. Say something like: “No, you may not borrow my curling iron because you don’t know how to properly use it yet.”
If you don’t come across as just using your authority because you’re the parent, then your child is much more likely to listen to you.
Your last R stands for results. Results refer to what will happen if the rule that you set down is broken. This is the punishment that would come, and it’s important to teach your child that when you do something, it has a consequence or reaction in life.
There will always be a time that even a good child doesn’t make the right choice, and they need to understand what consequence their action has created. Warning your child of a result will help to deter them from making a poor choice.
For example, if your child didn’t finish their plate, you would tell them that they won’t get dessert. Your child can then decide if they want to finish their plate or not based on if they are willing to accept the consequence of their action.
Set Them in Advance
If you set a rule too late, then your child will not be in a reasonable state of mind to evaluate and listen to the rule. It’s likely to make the situation much worse.
Never set rules arbitrarily in a heated situation. If you need to set more rules, come back when things are calm and then lay the rules down for your child in a way that they’ll be able to easily understand.
Planning is essential to setting and sticking to family rules. This is why it’s important to set the rules in advance.
If you are going to an event with your child where there will be a pool, let them know if they will be able to swim. Let them know what criteria they need to meet to be able to swim.
For example, if they need to meet with people first, tell them. If they need to finish their dinner first, tell them. Never expect your child to just know.
Strategy #6 - Redirection is Key
As the parent, you have the right to tell your child to not do something, that they can’t do something, or to simply say no.
However, sometimes it’s more beneficial to redirect the situation than to just tell your child no on something.
When a child is constantly hearing the words ‘don’t’ or ‘no’, then the child is more likely to start to tune that out.
It’s much easier to redirect the child from a bad behavior so that when you do tell them not to do something or to stop doing something, then they’ll listen.
It is the same line of thought on why you should ignore minor misbehavior. You cannot constantly get onto a child and expect them to continue to respond to you.
Replacing with Positive Behavior
As a parent, you have the ability to replace negative behavior with positive behavior, and redirecting can be key. It’s often best that you don’t comment on the misbehavior at all or you’re drawing attention to it, and attention is something that children are constantly seeking out.
For example, you’re at a party and your child is starting to misbehave and starting to say something rude to one of the guests.
You notice that your child is starting to show rude behavior, and you have the opportunity to stop it before it escalates. You won’t just want to tell your child to be quiet or not to be rude.
Instead, you can redirect by giving your child a task. Call your child over and ask if they’d like a drink. Ask them if they’ll get something from the car for you, or introduce your child to someone else.
Get them away from the negative behavior, and redirect it towards a positive behavior that you’d like for your child to repeat.
Give Feedback Later
When you give feedback later on what was going on, don’t give feedback on the negative. Once again, never reinforce the negative. Instead, reinforce the positive of the day.
This is similar to labeling your praises, and you can combine that strategy with this one to make sure that proper behavior is repeated. Tell your child that you loved how helpful they were if you sent them to the car.
Tell them that you loved how they were able to walk away from a situation that was going poorly, etc. Just remember to only concentrate on the positive, and do not give too much praise. Just enough for encouragement is fine.
Strategy #7 - Set Routines with Leniency
Positive parenting does require somewhat of a routine, but you can’t be so strict that you don’t allow for leniency as a parent.
If your child views you as a warden of a prison instead of someone who cares about them, then they will not listen to you.
They will respond better if you open up a dialogue. Children can thrive with a routine because it gives them the direction that they need to feel secure in a situation.
Clearly Define Routines
You don’t want to have an unspoken routine or your child will not see an issue with breaking it.
It needs to be clear that you want a routine to continue if you want your child to react to it.
There are times during the day that will be challenging to your child, but if they have a defined routine that they can fall back on for comfort, then it’ll be easier for them to get through the tough times and finish their day without being overloaded with stress. It also will help you to connect with your child and share something with them.
For example, if your child needs to get up at a certain time, then tell them when to get up and when to go to bed. This is normal for most children that go to school.
However, if you would like your child to make their bed, tell them that they need to make their bed before breakfast, and then your child knows exactly what is expected of them.
If they are supposed to come straight home after school, tell them to do so. Do not just assume that your child will because without direction, your child will not be able to tell what they should be doing in regards to positive behavior. This can lead to negative behavior due to miscommunication.
Dialogue about Exceptions
There needs to be some leniency when you are dealing with a routine. Routines will fail from time to time, and you shouldn’t make your child feel as if they have to break them if they’d like to do something else.
Open up a dialogue about an exception, and make it clear that you are willing to make exceptions from time to time. If there is a new movie that your child wants to see, but it’s after their bedtime, your child should feel free to be able to talk to you.
It doesn’t mean that as a parent you are obligated to give them that leniency, but you do need to say ‘yes’ when you feel it will not hurt your child.
Do not blindly stick to a routine just because it is the way it’s always been done. If they can give you good reasons why they should be allowed to see the movie, then allow them to.
However, if your child really shouldn’t go out that night for some reason, such as they have an important test the next day, then you should tell your child why you’re saying no. you can even then talk about a compromise, such as taking them to see it that weekend.
This will help to avoid a meltdown, and it’ll teach your child that there are exceptions to the rule.
Now that you know what positive parenting is, you are able to properly implement it into your daily life to raise a healthy, positive child that knows good behavior from the bad.
You know that you shouldn’t reward the bad behavior, and instead you can help your child to improve while promoting positive behavior with gentle guidance. Just use these seven strategies to ensure that you connect with your child while raising a good kid.