A few months ago I felt like I really needed a radical change in my parenting style — things simply stopped working well for me. My days were getting filled with a lot of negativity, frustration, and by the end of each day, resignation and tears. What worked for my children as toddlers and preschoolers simply didn’t work for a strong-willed, athletic, and super-confident boy of 8 (for example), not to mention the different personalities of my other kiddos! After all, as our children grow and develop, so do their attitudes, interests, and behaviors (as a result of more self-awareness, maturity, and confidence). Our parenting styles, in turn, need to adapt and evolve, as well.
It just so happened that an ad for Positive Parenting Solutions — https://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/ — popped up on my Facebook feed a few months ago. I had just had a particularly hard day of my son shouting at me most of the afternoon, which he was doing really often, so I thought, “what could it hurt?” I used my practice time the next morning to watch the webinar, and I have never looked back! It opened my eyes to understanding childhood behavior and needs so much better. I immediately bought Amy McCready’s book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time, and another book, Positive Parenting, by Rebecca Eanes. I will tell you that I have read and re-read Amy’s book several times, and I have since added sticky notes to direct me straight to what I usually need guidance with the most. Rebecca’s book has been an excellent supplement for alternate approaches.
These books teach you about parenting your children through positive attention, encouragement (not to be confused with praise), and empowerment, giving them some much-needed control over their own lives. In these books you learn tools and scripts that are designed to help you encourage them and teach them life’s valuable lessons on more-or-less their terms. It teaches you that your home life is, indeed, a democracy, as opposed to the more authoritarian style that most of us grew up with. As a natural result of some of the successes of the tools and lessons I have learned along the way, I actually feel more empowered, too! What a win/win situation!
I will say that the road has been really bumpy. It’s been a challenge, for one, getting my husband on the same page as me — not because he doesn’t want to, just lack of time to learn the techniques — but it is essential that your spouse/partner is in lock-step with you on this. Also, I’ve learned that my own personality has been part of the problem! (Say, what?!) Yeah. So, not only did I need to learn to adjust how I handle all of the difference situations that pop up day-to-day and to change our routine, I needed to adjust my own personality and be more cheery and less frantic overall. Needless to say, I’m still working on that! I am a person that likes a lot of control and order…oh, and did I mention that I am a little short-tempered, too? Haha, yikes! I’ve had to learn to let A LOT of stuff go, speak more gently/ less firmly, walk away from conflicts and power struggles, and hand over a lot of power (positive power) to my children. I’ve also learned that children learn so much more from just sitting down with them and talking calmly and lovingly with them about their choices and about empathy (i.e. using time-IN), rather than just using time-outs as a means to direct behavior in the heat of the moment, which I can attest to, definitely doesn’t work. It does require a TON of extra effort, but it’s so worth it!!
After implementing the techniques from Positive Parenting Solutions, the above-mentioned books, and from various websites devoted to positive parenting, I have rarely had to raise my voice or even ground my children. They simply learn from the choices they make. Encouragement gives them a sense of significance and be more willing to cooperate. Positive power, positive attention, and helping out the family gives them their much-needed sense of belonging. I absolutely love this approach! Again, like anything new, it can have its ups and downs, and I’m definitely still learning myself! But, overall, there has been a very positive difference in our house, and I love the growth and change I’m seeing!