Positive Parenting Defined: Coaching Your Child For Resiliency And Happiness
Authors: Catherine Baker Simms, PhD, BCBA-D and Gina Belli, M.Ed
Beginning in October 2018 the Florida Children’s Institute will be offering a course on the method and key techniques of positive parenting. The course is open to anyone in our community who is interested in learning more about coaching your child toward better resiliency and greater happiness. For more information, or to sign up for the course, see the event at FloridaChildrensinstitute.com/Positive-Parenting-101.
Parenting isn’t easy, by any means and for a lot of reasons. You want to prepare your child as best you can for success as an adult. You also want them to enjoy these years. So, how can you raise your child for optimal success as an adult? And, how can you best support them as they wade through the challenging waters of childhood? A coaching approach based in positive parenting practices offers a lot of benefits. We’ll learn a lot more about how to wield these tools effectively during the course. But, to get you started, here are a few ways to better understand what positive parenting is and how it can help you and your child:
- Coaching your child for success
Parents feel a sense of responsibility to teach their child right from wrong. The operative word here is, of course, teach. Disciplining a child for doing something that breaks the rules or demonstrates poor decision making, actually doesn’t go quite far enough. Children learn what they did wrong when they’re punished, but not much else. Furthermore, constantly being reprimanded at school, at home, and everywhere in between, can hurt a child’s self-esteem and create distance between them and the adults in their lives.
Instead, our approach will help you learn to operate more like a coach when faced with these parenting challenges. Through working together with your child to solve problems, you’ll build trust in your relationship, and your child will learn more about how to trust in themselves, too. When they make a mistake in the future (when, not if – they’re human) your child will be more likely to come to talk with you about it and to listen to the wisdom you can contribute. Through processing challenges in this way, your child will learn as much about what to do in the future as what not to do. They’ll admit their mistakes more easily, both to themselves and with others, and they’ll face punishments and consequences with less resistance. They’ll also have a more positive self-image, better self-esteem, and more trust in the adults in their lives.
- Problem-solving redefined
Kids need to learn how to problem solve in order to become happy, well-adjusted, adults. This is a challenging and complex task, and your guidance and support is crucial. It’s a delicate process – you don’t want to give too little support, but you don’t want to give too much either. Thinking like a coach can help.
Kids don’t learn how to navigate obstacles when adults simply remove them from their path. Kids might be happy being problem-free in the short term. They might seem relieved when parents fix things for them. However, in the long run, this approach doesn’t strengthen problem-solving skills. It isn’t good for kids’ self-confidence either. And, it doesn’t help them to build their own self-advocacy skills.
A positive parenting course can help you learn some new ways to talk through issues with your child in order to boost their independence, self-reliance, and self-esteem. This process improves kids’ self-understanding because it helps them feel that they can be honest with themselves, and you, about the things they’re going through. They won’t worry as much about being judged, criticized, or reprimanded. So, they’ll be more able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses more easily, accept themselves, and work toward making improvements.
This is not to say that there shouldn’t be some sort of punishment or restitution when your child breaks a rule or makes a mistake. In order for someone to move past an error, they first have to own it, then problem solve, and then move on. Without this ability, a kid can often end up being too hard on themselves when they make a mistake, or not quite hard enough, in an effort to avoid facing their misstep. Learning to problem solve is a crucial part of growing up, and in order to do that, kids have to face their challenges, and grapple with them, head on. You can help by coaching them through it.
- The key to resiliency
A positive parenting approach also helps your child to become more resilient. Adults teach children how to respond to challenges. When difficulties arise, you child is looking to you to know how to understand the situation. When you take things in stride, they will too.
It’s a lot easier for a child to look at what’s not working, what’s not going well, when adults are talking about their mistakes with them rather than stopping short at the reprimand or punishment. Of course there are consequences, but there is also open, non-judgmental conversation. Through this, kids learn that it’s not the end of the world when they make mistakes. Everyone does it! You learn what you can from it and move on.
Obstacles become opportunities to learn, not just challenges. Understanding this will help your child to become more resilient.
- Strengthening relationships
Another benefit of this approach is that it can do wonders for the relationship you have with your child. Through working together to solve problems, you’ll deepen and strengthen your relationship. The bond that you create through navigating life’s obstacles together in a positive and supportive way will last a lifetime. This work will help to nurture a powerful sense of trust and an openness in your relationship.
This work will also support your child in becoming more independent at school. It will help them to self-advocate with teachers and with other adults in their lives.
These methods also assist kids in developing stronger relationships with friends. They’ll employ the techniques and approaches they’ve learned with you when interacting with their peers without even noticing they’re doing it. They’ll be more accepting and forgiving of others mistakes and missteps when they learn how to accept their own. The work will help your child to be more forgiving and accepting of others, because you’ve taught them how to show themselves that same compassion.
Coaching your child through a positive parenting approach allows everyone in your family to focus just a little more on the good times. You’ll build your bond while doing activities your child enjoys, and you’ll spend more time talking and interacting on their level, which will help your child grow in countless ways. Parents and kids have a lot to gain through this kind of work. As you already know as a parent, a little positivity can go a very long way.