In search of positive parenting

one big happy family. When families use encouragement, it builds a positive environment.

One big happy family on a rainy day from Knitkid on Flickr.

“Positive parenting” is one of the top online search terms. We all want to avoid yelling, threats, hitting, punishment or bribery when communicating to our children.

Another popular search term is “parenting plan,” the twin sister to “positive parenting.” Combine the two to achieve the happy family photo above.

My Positive Parenting Plan is based on encouragement: to give courage. People of all ages most need encouragement when we feel discouraged, depressed and distraught — when it’s difficult for people to find something positive to say to rebuild our courage.

For example, mom says, “Morgan, it’s time to put away your Legos and eat dinner.” Morgan puts a few Legos back in the box, gets distracted and starts playing again.

Mom returns and says, “I see you put a few legos away. That’s a good start. Keep going. I’m hungry,” and she puts a few in the box. Morgan joins her. Mom acknowledged the action Morgan took and built on the success of putting away those few Legos without getting angry, threatening or bribing her daughter.

How about this example. Matthew, 15, brings home an algebra test with a 60 percent grade. Dad looks over the test, finds one question he got right and says, “Look, you got this question right. Can you explain the formula to me?” This opens the discussion and builds on success. Dad asks, “Do you need help with Algebra?” Matthew says, “No. I can get help from the teacher. I was tired when I took the test. I should have gone to bed earlier the night before.” Lecture avoided. Matthew knows how to correct the situation.

Encouragement builds on success and sees the glass as half-full. Encouragement is cheap and effective. It is a positive way to look at situations and people. Encouragement replaces the bankrupt communication of praise — which focuses on final  achievements and making the parent look good.

Encouragement zooms in on effort and the deed, not the doer. Use encouragement after failure — when courage is most needed and praise is impossible and irrelevant.

Start a positive parenting plan today and practice the art of encouragement. Catch yourself praising and replace it with encouragement. Notice the actions taken, how the child is feeling, and comment on their effort. Silent observation is another powerful form of encouragement. We all want to be witnessed.

Encouragement will revolutionize your parenting plan and relationship to your child.

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