10 Tips for Positive Parenting

lucky number 10Sometimes, parenting skills can be learned from the most unlikely places. Like business, for example.

I’ve had my own business, managed businesses for others, and worked for a number of employers, both good and bad. The following positive parenting tips all come from lessons I’ve learned during those experiences, and I hope you’ll find something useful in there for you. They’re not always easy to do, but will pay off for us and our kids in the long run if we keep working at them.

10 Positive Parenting Tips Learned from Business

1. Zoom Out

If we can pull back to see the big picture, we can ask ourselves how this moment fits into the overall scheme of things. When we do that, we won’t be so uptight about so many things. Learn to zoom out, put things in context, and not micro-manage your children.

2. Take off the blinders of assumption

We need to be as objective as possible, and not bring our prejudices into the way we parent. Do we act or parent in a certain way simply because that’s the way our parents did it? Or because it’s the opposite of the way they acted? Either way, we’re not being true to who we are (and that’s a hard thing to see in yourself, believe me). Practice simply observing yourself and your kids without bringing all of your baggage to the family.

3. What are our priorities?

What is really important, whether your child eats every bite on her plate, or whether she got enough to eat? If she wears the same dirty shirt for three days, does it really matter? I’m not advocating letting your kids do whatever they want, but like they say, pick your battles. Don’t try to win ’em all.

4. Come clean

Use clear, simple language to communicate. Don’t fill your sentences full of ‘if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’. Don’t baby talk to your children, but don’t confuse them, either. Good communication is a powerful skill, and learning to speak in a way that our kids can understand will make a huge difference in our relationships.

5. Accentuate the positive

Always state the behavior we want to see from our kids, instead of dwelling on their unacceptable behavior. Let me put it this way: Whatever you do, don’t think of an elephant. Now what went through your head just then? Hmm… Repeating the behavior we don’t want to happen, even when prefaced by “Don’t”, can instead reinforce those tendencies. Instead, we can suggest the alternate, positive behavior, and use redirection to help them learn.

6. Don’t ask for the moon

Expecting miracles is alright in some circles, but asking a child to shift behaviors overnight is unrealistic, as is expecting permanent changes to take place without some effort. We need to see our children as they are, not how we think they should be. There isn’t a right or wrong time to learn something, even though people will try to tell you there is. Let your kids learn and grow at their own pace, not yours.

7. Walk the talk

We set an example for our kids every time we open our mouths and every time we take action on anything. It’s silly to expect our children to ‘do as we say, and not as we do’. If they have ‘bad’ habits, they probably learned them from us. We know that kids learn by imitating, so let’s give them a good example to follow.

8. Be consistent

When we tell a child no once, and then yes the next time, we send a message that the answer will be different every time (and sets you up for repeated requests, hoping to get to ‘yes’). It’s important that mom and dad are on the same page and speak as one. How common is it for kids to run to the parent that might say yes first? Or to get a no and then hit up the other parent for a yes? Stand together as one, support the decisions of the other parent, and make no exceptions.

9. Get flexible

Sometimes, the most powerful parenting skill is being adaptable. This may seem to contradict the point above about consistency, but it doesn’t apply to the same ‘micro’ decisions. It has more to do with not being so set on our expectations and our pre-conceived ideas of how the day (or week, or year) should go. The ability to ‘roll with it’ will let you drop some of that (self-imposed) stress and just enjoy what is.

10. Lighten up

Most of us are so heavy in our thoughts, words, and actions that we can’t just start giggling (try it). But a three year old can. If we are able to laugh at ourselves, and remember that almost nothing is irreversible, we’ll be much more fun to be around. And that’s huge to a kid.

What parenting tips would you add to this list? Where did you learn them?

Image: Nicholas Kennedy at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

5 thoughts on “10 Tips for Positive Parenting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *