What is Positive Parenting?
Edited by Al Crowell
April 2003

Positive parenting is about:

Believing children want to communicate with you, listening to children, discussing with your children what you want them to do, being very clear about what you want them to do, setting clear limits and boundaries, being firm and consistent, giving the same message every time, viewing disagreements between parents and children as opportunities to develop problem-solving and negotiation skills

Let’s communicate

Make requests to your child short and to the point, make one request at a time, let your child know clearly what you would like him or her to do, be realistic in your expectations considering the child’s age and ability, use ‘do’ rather than ‘don’t’ requests, make requests polite, don’t threaten later punishment e.g. when Dad gets home, etc., use ‘when’ and ‘then’ requests e.g. when you have got dressed, then we can go to the park

Why won’t she do as I ask?

If your child has got into the habit of not paying attention to your requests: Kneel or sit so you are at his or her level, hold your child gently by the shoulders or, hands, while you make the request, look right into his/her eyes, talk in a clear and firm voice, and let your face look serious while you speak. Where possible, have someone else to back you up if the child ignores you, and make it clear that you expect to be listened to – as you would listen to him or her. Listen to your child’s response and carefully consider their views, give your child options whenever possible, try negotiation, give ample opportunity for him/her to complete the task, praise cooperation OR explain the consequences for non-cooperation (not threats), give warnings and helpful reminders e.g. “If you continue…”, support your partner and have your partner support you, encourage problem-solving with your child

Giving Praise

Make the praise relevant to the behavior, praise immediately, give specific praise to help the child understand his/her behavior (i.e. complete the sentence, “That is a good job because you picked up all your toys.” Give positive praise without qualifiers or sarcasm, praise with smiles, eye contact and enthusiasm, as well as with words, give pats, hugs and kisses along with verbal praise. ‘Catch’ your child when s/he is behaving well – don’t save praise for perfect behavior only, use praise consistently whenever you see the positive behavior you want to encourage, praise in front of other people, increase praise for difficult children, show the child how to praise him or herself for appropriate behavior, reward your child with a treat for behaving well e.g. choosing a trip out, do not offer your child a treat in the form of a bribe to stop behaving badly (spoiling the child).

Other tips

Give children options where possible, give ample opportunity to comply (time), praise cooperation – OR – provide consequences for non-cooperation, and give warnings and helpful reminders e.g. “If you continue….then…” Strike a balance between parental and child control (show respect for your children, let smaller things go), encourage problem solving and involve your children in this skill.

See links section for Web sites that teach this manner of parenting.

Return to The Bible and positive parenting at www.nospank.net/bpp.htm
Return to Christians for Nonviolent Parenting at www.nospank.net/cnpindex.htm
Return to Project NoSpank Table of Contents at www.nospank.net/toc.htm