Positive parenting, a happy middle between the authoritarian and permissive styles, offers a nurturing approach to raising well-rounded and healthy children.
What kind of parent will you be? How will you enforce consequences or punishments? There are a lot of different parenting styles out there. In this article, we’ll cover all of the benefits and challenges to the positive parenting approach.
What is positive parenting?
Positive parenting, also known as positive discipline, is a way of raising children that involves affection, empathy, communication, and mutual respect. Here’s a breakdown of a few popular parenting styles:
- Authoritarianism: a stricter approach, the authoritarian parent is focused on discipline and obedience. Generally, this style involves rules and consequences.
- Permissive: in this approach, the child is in charge and punishments do not exist.
- Positive parenting: offers a middle ground between the two approaches. A parent who employs the positive approach sets limits, but reinforces them with reasonable and respectful consequences. This style validates a child’s feelings and acknowledges that children are in a perpetual state of development in which they need guidance, not commands.
The idea with positive discipline is that a child has the autonomy to make their own decisions but the understanding that there are always limitations and natural consequences to consider.
How to deal with tantrums with positive parenting
It’s important to understand that when children throw tantrums they are usually trying to express their emotions and/or frustrations. Tantrums are not a personal attack on the adult in the child’s life–it’s simply one of the few ways a child knows how to communicate at this stage.
We know that most parents don’t enjoy or want to punish their children after having a tantrum, but end up doing so because they feel they have no other choice. But punishing our children for throwing tantrums doesn’t help a child properly learn how to handle their emotions in a positive way.
Punishments end up making a child feel defensive and angry. With the positive discipline approach, these outbursts are turned into learning opportunities where a child can be redirected in an empathetic way.
The positive parenting approach avoids punishments, especially violent ones, but we know that children are not old enough or developmentally mature enough to govern their own lives and feelings. So what’s the solution? Here are a few tips for when tantrums happen:
- Find the root of the problem – figuring out what’s going on requires a lot of self-awareness and emotional intelligence from your child (and from you!). In order for your child to understand their emotions, you need to be able to manage your own as well as understand and interpret your child’s behavior.
Validate your child’s feelings. Your child may or may not be able to verbalize what they are feeling. You can help by suggesting or naming certain emotions. For example, “I’m noticing that you seem to be a little frustrated. I’m also frustrated that we’ve been out running errands for a long time. How about we play hide-and-seek when we get home?”
- Offer a few clear choices and set reasonable expectations. For example, if your child is throwing a tantrum about putting on their swimsuit, you could say “You can choose between this top and that top and then we are going to go make sand castles. Sounds good? Which one do you want to wear?”
- Sometimes, a tantrum can happen when your child is very energetic or very tired. In this case, reasoning with your child will only go so far. It’s best to try and calm your child by speaking softly, rubbing their back, or encouraging them to take deep breaths.
Benefits of positive discipline
These early years help build the foundation for the the rest of your child’s life. The environment in which your child is raised along with decisions you make in raising them, will affect their development in ways big and small.
The positive parenting approach helps us support our children in a lot of ways, including:
- It promotes emotional intelligence. Practicing this skill early on can help your child better navigate and deal with complex emotions as an adult.
- Positive parenting supports autonomy and empathy: by allowing your child to make decisions and live out natural consequences, you’re teaching them how to think for themselves while still thinking of how their behaviors affect others.
- Self-esteem: a respectful environment leads to a happy and well-grounded child.