There is no such thing as a perfect parent. As parents, we can and will make mistakes. If there is one thing that we can do, it’s parent positively.
The Zero to Three organization introduces us to the idea of “positive parenting.” It comes with the notion that parents should answer with love and understanding when responding to a crisis your child may be having. It includes these nine elements.
1. See your child’s point of view. Keep your frustration under control, when your child can’t find the right shoes or their socks to match. Remember that your child’s perspective is very different from yours. What may seem insignificant to you, may be a big deal to your child. Children take time to manage their emotions, so work together to calmly to fix the situation.
2. Take note of your child’s strengths, abilities and development. Each child is unique, growing and learning at his/her own pace. Make an effort to really see and understand your child. They need to know you know who they are as a person when others don’t.
3. Connect with your child in simple ways. Don’t get too distracted by daily parenting duties: dishes, laundry, naps and transitions from one activity to the next. Take time to smile, read a book or have cuddle time when requested.
4. Respond with interest and sensitivity to your child’s cues. Every child communicates his/her needs differently. Take the time to watch and learn your child’s cues, gestures and communications. From temper tantrums in the grocery store to screaming in church, they all have meaning. Respond as sensitively as you possibly can in these moments.
5. Be consistent in setting age-based guidelines and boundaries. Parenting is a combination of nurture and structure. To maintain a behavior balance, set predictable routines and firm limits. Your child is more likely to cooperate if you meet them at their developmental.
6. Check your own feelings and behaviors before responding to your child. Young children are naturally driven by their strong emotions. We do better as parents (and role models!) when we take deep breaths and calm ourselves first before responding to their behavior. Remember…children reciprocate what they see and hear. If you are calm, they will be calm!
7. Know when you are wrong. As a parent, it is hard to be calm, cool and collected all the time. There will always be moments when we lose our tempers (and you are not the only one). Apologizing when you’re wrong and setting things right is relationship building and helps children learn how to do this as they grow older.
8. Take care of your needs too. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Plan for breaks throughout the day; even two minutes of deep breathing can help. Pay attention to your needs for socializing, sleep, exercise and nutrition, too. You will parent better when you are happy and content.
9. Seek help when needed. When parenting seems tough, seek the help and support of others who are facing similar challenges. There might be new ideas “just around the corner” to help you solve issues you may be having.
“Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.” There will always be mistakes and missteps, but part of being a great parent is recognizing when things haven’t gone right and responding with love to repair the relationship. That’s positive parenting in action. – Zero To Three