Kids do what they gotta do, they throw tantrums, they cry when you don't buy them that sugary cereal at the supermarket and they scream when you refuse to give them chocolate before dinner.
And here's the thing, they cannot handle big emotions. And you know what, sometimes parents can't handle them too. And that's alright, but screaming back doesn’t help. You need to set an example and guide your little one into a problem-solving thought process.
So how do you do that? Two words - Positive Parenting.
What is Positive Parenting?
Positive Parenting is about developing a relationship between the parents and the kid based on trust, truth, and mutual respect.
Parents who practice the approach don't use harsh punishment to correct problematic behavior. Instead, they take the time to listen and help the child internalize discipline rather than obey rules unwillingly.
What are some techniques that I can use?
1. Discipline, don’t punish
Positive Parenting does not support punishing. And yet, there are specified rules and consequences of disobeying, which are clearly laid out for the child.
When coming up with the rules and the consequences, you can work together as a team. Make sure that your little one agrees with each one of them.
For example, agree never to have chocolate before meals, but afterward. And if a tantrum is thrown, the consequence could be the shortening of the allowed screen time. It's also a good idea to let your kid choose the consequence for himself.
2. Avoid shaming
Shaming is the number one enemy of good upbringing and healthy mentality. It fails to teach empathy and models a dysfunctional way to deal with problems.
Instead of raging, 'You are so naughty!', take a deep breath and declare, 'I am very upset with what you did. I understand that you are angry, but was this the right thing to do?'
Focus on the situation and the behavior at hand, not on the kid himself. He is not naughty, his momentary behavior was. Learn the difference and communicate it in a way that won't push him into assuming and defining himself as bad.
Once this separation is done, he will start getting a sense of his own feelings and understand how to deal with them easily.
3. Be empathic
Be empathic, at all times.
Adding ‘I understand.’ before your discipline-talks will make a significant difference.
And no, you don’t have to really understand everything they feel, as they experience emotions multiplied by ten, but if they are on the floor, tossing and shouting, don’t shout back. Wait for the storm to pass, allow them to cry it out if they must. There will be no use of your ready-to-go lecture when their brain is shooting fireworks and missiles and refuses to accept any new information that you try to imply.
Simply level yourself to down their tiny shoes and tell them ‘I know it’s hard, but we can work it out together.’ Because you really can. Make them feel supported and safe first, the rest will follow.
4. Praise good behaviour
A big part of the Positive Parenting philosophy is praising good behavior in order to encourage one.
When doing so, make it specific, e.g., "Well done for putting your clothes away!" and "Good job for helping me with the cleaning!". In this way, they will remember it and try to repeat it.
Also, praise the effort, not the outcome.
Rather than saying, "Your room looks so nice now that you’ve put your toys away.", state, "I am so proud that you put your toys away!". This small change in the wording of your expressions will support your kid's healthy self-esteem development.
5. Show good example
Displaying concise emotion management, especially during stressful situations, will grant your little one a model to follow. Children have the tendency to copy bad behavior, so make you don’t lose it all up in front of your little one. And we're not saying you have to be perfect 24/7. But know that you are the one that he looks up to the most.
The truth is kids want attention. So, give it to them the right way.
Don't wait for them to misbehave in order to spare an hour to sit down and talk. Spend more one-to-one time together, and you will see how, gradually, lots will change