Over the Hedge by T Lewis and Michael Fry (GoComics.com)

 

Parenting has always been a difficult task, and in this day and age, it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier. Fiona Werle-Schupp outlines three styles of parenting that most mothers and fathers subscribe to:

Authoritarian, where parents have strict rules, expect their child to be mature and compliant.

Authoritative, where parents are assertive, not restrictive, supportive yet monitor behaviors closely and show clear standards.

Permissive, where parents rarely discipline, are responsive and allow their child self-regulation.

 

Two adults exhibiting differences in parenting styles is not uncommon and often lead to conflict, especially when one or both parent is stubborn. Marrying two different parenting styles into one effective strategy is the essence of positive parenting:

When looking at the different styles it is easy to see that if two parents have a differing opinion on which style to use when parenting, this can impact on them showing a united front in parenting, which is key to good positive parenting.

Positive parenting is leading your child towards learning good values and having well rounded beliefs, this is why it is important for parents to unite in their parenting decisions, to share the problem solving, and to us a compatible language. It is a valuable lesson for the child to see and hear that both their parents or carers are able to use positively enforced language, utilize diverse skills to attain a positive outcome and all the while inviting engagement from within the family unit.

 

Dr. Laura Markham isn’t a fan of authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Markham advocates for a style she calls peaceful parenting:

What is a Peaceful Parent? A parent who commits to regulating her own emotions, instead of taking them out on her child. A parent who commits to not using violence or shame to control her child, and instead uses connection and coaching to motivate him.

Why Peaceful Parenting? Because it works, from toddlers to teens. Peaceful parenting raises a child who WANTS to behave.

Strict Parenting raises angry kids who lose interest in pleasing their parents. Permissive parenting raises unhappy kids who test their parents. In both cases, the child resists the parent’s guidance and doesn’t internalize self discipline.

Peaceful parenting is using love and connection to keep our kids on the right path. Research shows that children are more open to our guidance when we empathize, and resist any temptation to be punitive. That’s what helps kids learn consideration and responsibility, and makes for happier kids and parents.

 

One thing that can help every mother and father be a better parent is to learn to be a better listener. Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott believe that children listen to their parents only after they feel listened to. Their advice:

  1. Notice how often you interrupt, explain, defend your position, lecture, or give a command when your child tries to talk to you.
  2. Stop and just listen. It is okay to ask questions such as, “Can you give me an example? Is there anything else?”
  3. When your child is finished, ask if he or she is willing to hear you.
  4. After sharing, focus on a solution that works for both.

 

Nelson and Lott provide a Listening Tool Card to help parents do their duty in a positive and peaceful way:

  1. Validate feelings: I can see this is very upsetting for you. Sounds like you are really sad, mad, feeling hurt.
  2. Ask Curiosity Questions:  What happened? Want to talk about it?
  3. Invite Deeper Sharing: Anything else? Is there more? Anything else? Anything else?
  4. Listen with your Lips Closed:  Hmmmm.
  5. Have Faith in Your Child: Know that, in most cases, your child simply needs a supportive, listening ear as part of the process of venting before coming up with his or her solution. Through this process your child learns resiliency (“I can deal with the ups and downs of life.”) and capability (“I can survive getting upset and figure out solutions.”).

 

Remember that being a positive parent means taking care of yourself first:

Take care of yourself. If you are tired, ill or just
worn out, you cannot be an effective parent.
Eat healthy, get enough sleep, take occasional breaks from parenting if possible, and enlist the support
of family, friends and neighbors when things seem overwhelming. You can also find support through parenting groups.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent site on its Child Development page offering positive parenting tips by age group. Also covered are developmental milestones, safety tips, and age-appropriate advice on healthy bodies. You can find and bookmark that page here.