Positive parenting is a technique that focuses on positive discipline. The goal is to help parents tackle everyday problems, like disobedience, without resorting to harsh punishment. According to a number of parenting experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, harsh disciplinary techniques simply don’t work in the long run.
Advocates say that by following positive parenting techniques, your child is likely to have better self-esteem as well as better behavior. Read on for 20 ways you can practice this technique right from the get-go.
1. Shower your baby with affection.
Ample cuddle time will help your baby feel more secure. This is a crucial first step to promoting self-esteem. The idea is that secure babies are more confident as they get older, which is important for independence.
2. Talk to your baby often.
Talking to your baby creates numerous building blocks. Not only is your voice a source of calm, but your child will also begin to recognize sounds for future language development. Talking to your baby might even increase the likelihood that he or she will feel more open to talking to you in the future.
3. Listen to your baby.
Simply talking over your child can discourage them from talking to you. Even if they can’t use words yet, you can actively listen and regard the sounds your baby makes. Repeat these sounds back to show you will always listen.
4. Praise your baby for a job well done.
Your baby will hit many milestones in year one. Showing them that you notice and care can boost their self-esteem. Even if the action seems minor, such as eating rice cereal, the praise will go a long way as your child grows.
5. Distract them from dangerous situations.
When your baby starts touching things or going places they shouldn’t, your first instinct might be to yell “no!” Yelling can be damaging to self-esteem, and getting upset will only make them more curious about the forbidden. Instead, offer safe distractions. Over time, your baby will catch on and realize that the distractions are more fun, anyway.
6. Demonstrate desired behavior.
Young children rely on social cues to figure out what they ought to be doing. Showing, rather than telling, can go a long way in getting them to behave. Instead of telling them they’re acting up, show them what they should do instead. This will help decrease negative behaviors in the future.
7. Focus on wanted behaviors.
While you shouldn’t ignore it when your kid acts up, you also shouldn’t dwell on it. Make sure you offer ample praise when your child behaves well. Ultimately, they just want to please you, and they will want to be praised again in the future.
8. Use short time-outs when necessary.
Once in a while, a time-out is in order. Make sure to keep them brief, usually one minute per your child’s age (e.g., two minutes for 2-year-olds). When time is up, explain to them why they needed a time-out and what they could have done differently.
9. Let your child help with self-care.
Under supervision, toddlers can start to help themselves get dressed, brush their own teeth, and eat with utensils. This promotes independence. When you continue to do everything for them, this inadvertently sends the message that you think your child can’t accomplish simple tasks themselves.
10. Encourage new experiences.
Take your child to new places and encourage them to try new things. This will instill confidence and future independence. Accompanying your child also sets up open communication — they’ll ask you to help them when dealing with new tasks in the future instead of shutting you out.
11. Encourage friendships and kindness.
New experiences are also great opportunities for your child to meet new people. By encouraging them to make new friendships, they’ll learn the value of human bonds. Build on this by showing them how to help friends feel good, like by sharing toys and making cards.
12. Assign small, simple chores.
Contributing to the household, even in small ways, can help your child feel more confident. Assign them simple tasks, like setting the table or feeding the dog. The more they’re used to helping out, the more likely they’ll want to help with household chores as they grow. On the flip side, not allowing them to do anything because you don’t want them to make mistakes will only dissuade them from helping.
13. Allow them to make choices.
Leaving small choices up to your child builds future leadership skills. For young children, simple choices work best. Let them choose what snack to eat, what game to play, or which shirt to wear.
14. Explain why you discipline them.
Always tell your child why you want them to behave in a certain way. Just saying “no” or “because I said so” is counterproductive. They won’t want to achieve desired behaviors if they don’t understand them.
15. Help them solve problems.
At this stage, your child probably wants to solve problems on their own, and you should let them as much as possible. Intervening too early hinders them from having the ability and confidence to figure things out on their own. However, if they ask you for help, focus on one step at a time so they can try to figure out the ultimate answer themselves.
16. Set achievable goals.
Whether it’s reading a book alone, or acing that math test, helping your child set goals is crucial for building self-worth. Being able to achieve even small goals will help instill pride, while also making them less likely to rely on adults and peers.
17. Discuss the differences between right and wrong.
Often, parents assume their child knows why some things are right, and others are wrong. But the fact is that your child is faced with new situations every day, combined with peer pressure. Maintain open discussions about right and wrong, and make sure your child knows how to identify and report bullying.
18. Set clear expectations for when you’re not around.
As kids grow up, it’s natural for them to want to spend less time with their parents. But that doesn’t mean your rules go out the window. Be sure to go over rules frequently, and have your child articulate correct behaviors.
19. Get excited about good behavior.
Children will make mistakes, so it’s important not to overly focus on these so they don’t feel bad about themselves. Get more excited about what they do right, whether it’s at home, at school, or elsewhere. Catch them being good, and make sure they know you saw them.
20. Always show affection.
Your child is never too old for your affection. This is one of the main tenets of positive parenting because it is believed to be an integral part of the child-parent bond. Make sure you give hugs every day and let your child know how much you love them, and that you will always be there when they need you.