Positive Parenting: What It Means and How It Works

Positive Parenting: What It Means and How It Works

How and why one mom applies the “positive parenting” concept at home.


By: Lorraine Allen

The concept of “positive parenting” (also referred to as “loving guidance”) is the idea that love should be the guiding reason for children to listen to their parents and behave, instead of reward systems and punishments, which can make kids feel bad about themselves and create more discipline issues instead of fewer. This parenting method has in recent years been widely explored and applauded on the web and in books like The Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful Way to Raise Children by Glenn I. Latham.

I read about “positive parenting” when I first became a mom and it was mentioned in baby and toddler books. It sounded interesting, but you don’t discipline a baby, of course, and by the time my kid hit preschool and her tantrum stage, I had honestly forgotten about it. I was too busy trying to put out fires however I could. All I kept wondering was, “Is there a toddler anger-management class?”

After a power struggle that felt like it lasted a year, I had an “aha!” moment when, not knowing what to do with my defiant daughter anymore, I thought: “What if I tried that positive method?” Instead of telling her what NOT to do over and over and over, which is clearly just not working for me, what if I tell her the RIGHT thing to do? So instead of yelling, “STOP getting up from the table and running around with your food, I mean it,” I changed my tune to, “If you want to be really strong and run really fast, and reach those monkey bars, you need to sit still at meals, to give your body time to gobble up all that yummy food.” And it worked! Showing my child that the reason I was asking her to sit still is because I love her and want to help her grow and be healthy was enough, even for a 4-year-old, to understand.

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To try this method at home, start by reinforcing how much you love your children. They love you more than anything, that’s a given. But they often doubt, in times of anger and discipline, our love for them. Remember that kids tend to act out when they feel scared or that something is beyond their control, like parents not loving them, or thinking they are bad kids. But deep down, they want to listen to you because your love means more to them than anything else they are fighting you for. So the next time your kid is struggling, try getting down to her eye level, show her some empathy, and set firm, simple boundaries. For instance, “I can see that you are frustrated, but no grabbing,” (or hitting or throwing or yelling, etc.). And try to always redirect and follow a “no” with a “yes.” Set clear boundaries for things that are wrong, but then explain how she can do it RIGHT, instead. For example, “Use your words to say what you want / express yourself, so people can understand and help you.”

What’s your favorite method to get your kids to listen and behave?



Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/patrickheagney

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