Saturday, November 14, 2009

Positive Parenting

I'm often kind of shocked at how many different parenting self-help books and strategies are out there. Some are really out there. But one "method" really rings true to me.

It's called "Positive Parenting." To get straight to the gist of it, the goal is to give your children so much positive praise and attention that they won't resort to poor behavior to get the attention they need, and when it comes to discipline, the removal of that positive attention is more of a punishment than the time-out or whatever discipline you use. To be really successful at this, you need to praise your child for nearly every good behavior, even tiny babies. At first it is difficult to remember, so put a pebble in your shoe or turn all your clocks sideways or something so that you are reminded to give your child positive praise. Kids just starting this method will need a lot of praise to get accustomed to it--around 100 positive notices a day. After a few weeks, when the child and yourself have built a relationship around all this praise, it doesn't have to be quite as much, around 50 times a day, but the more the better.

Now, I'm not an expert on positive parenting, nor do I get all my needed praises in, but whenever I notice my kids doing something right--from using a spoon, to sharing toys (even if they're not sharing perfectly), to helping in the kitchen, to simply NOT making a scene in the middle of the grocery store, I try to let them know that I appreciate their good behavior, that I think they are smart or cute or well-behaved, or a good sibling, or just a good kid.

There's all kinds of what-if situations with this parenting method, so I could write a novel on it; but other people already have, so I won't here. This is just to remind me, and to give all of you, my favorite ideas on parenting. I love how happy our home is when I search all day for good things my kids are doing, instead of grumping about their poor behavior. The kids aren't perfect. But the smile my son gets when he knows he's done something right is priceless. And my daughter's happy little laugh--nothing better.

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