10 Ways to Be a More Positive Parent

Parenting isn't easy, and sometimes it can be hard to keep your cool. Learn how to quell knee-jerk reactions and stay positive with these tried-and-true techniques.

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Stay Positive with Safety

Provide your child with clear rules around safety topics, as well as the reasons for the rules, and always put a positive spin on your language. For instance, say, "Please walk," instead of "Don't run!"

Listen and Respond

Use responsive language. If your child does or says something you don't agree with, talk to him in a clear and non-accusatory way, rather than simply directing him. Listen attentively, and explain why you'd like him to follow your rule. Verbal guidance can be something like, "Walk to the bus so that you stay safe and don't fall."

Set A Good Example

As you show your child what you'd like him to do, explain why you're doing what you're doing. Providing explanations is very helpful when teaching patience and social skills, and helps kids connect their feelings with words. "It's really hard for me to wait for a turn on the swing. I want to run up there right now, but I'll wait until Sarah's done."

Reinforce Positive Behavior

Teaching a new behavior? Make sure to reinforce what you'd like him to do each time it occurs. Immediate and continuous praise—a smile, a pat on the back, stickers or a special activity can go a long way.


Provide Specific Compliments

Make praise specific, descriptive and explicit. Instead of saying, "Great," say, "Tina, it's terrific that you remembered to clean your room before playing with your dolls." This meaningful feedback will nurture self-confidence.

Instead of emphasizing the end product—"What a beautiful picture"—focus on the process: "You put a lot of effort in your painting, especially with how you used the blue paint."

Ignore Benign Inappropriate Behavior

Scolding your child when he misbehaves can fuel his craving for attention. If you overlook annoying or benign behavior, your kid is less likely to repeat it. See what a difference it makes when you praise your child for being good, rather than chiding him for misbehaving! This rule only applies to non-disruptive behavior—harmful behaviors and actions should never be ignored.

Give Options

To promote independence, give your child a choice between two options. Asking your child to help you clean the house may instigate an argument. Instead, give her a choice of chores to tackle: "It's time to clean up the house. Do you want to put away the dishes or the dolls?" This will make your little one feel respected.

Redirect to Acceptable Substitutes

If your child is misbehaving, remove her from the problem area and redirect her to another activity. Provide alternative activities that the child can do instead of telling her what not to do: "Annie, it's not safe to pull cereal boxes out from the bottom of the display. Please help me pick out some apples for today's snack."

Foster Problem Solving

Promote critical thinking and resolution skills. Direct children through the five steps of the problem solving process:

1. What is the problem?

2. What can you do?

3. What might happen if ... ?

4. Choose a solution and use it.

5. Is it working?

Connect Actions with Consequences

Help your child understand the cause-and-effect connection between behavior and consequences. This will help your child repeat a desired behavior ("Ruth, you did not wash your hands before lunch. Please go to the bathroom and wash them"), make good on bad behavior ("Mike, when we draw on books, other kids cannot use them; please erase the marks"), and understand that privileges may be temporarily revoked for misbehavior ("Alex, I reminded you that you shouldn't splash others with water at the painting table; you'll need to play somewhere else today.")

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