Parenting is easy — said no one ever.
You want to be the best parent, but there’s no step-by-step manual, and making the right decisions is never clear-cut. Positive daily choices require consistency, self-discipline, and care — not to mention a lot of patience.
Positive parenting is a framework for nurturing healthy behaviors in your children without losing sight of your own wellness. It helps set the foundation to build sustainable parent-child bonds and avoid stressful family conflicts.
And this framework provides your children with the tools necessary to build valuable interpersonal skills, create healthy relationships, and positively contribute to their communities.
What’s positive parenting?
Positive parenting is an approach to raising children that focuses on developing strong emotional connections and helping children embrace themselves.
Research from Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, founder of the school of individual psychology, set the stage for positive parenting in the 1900s. He specifically explored the role of parenting in the prevention of future psychological problems — and how positive parenting helps kids thrive.
It’s a parenting style that includes activities, attitudes, and behaviors that encourage positive child development. This positive atmosphere supports effective parenting, helping children flourish as young individuals and act responsibly in their community as they grow.
A positive atmosphere doesn’t mean a free-for-all. Positive parenting consists of a mixture of authoritative parenting and positive reinforcement. This means striking a balance between being assertive of values without acting domineering and staying consistent with rules and discipline while being responsive to your child’s specific developmental needs.
To build your own routines and parenting practices, it’s essential to understand a few core principles of positive parenting techniques:
A safe and engaging environment: Creating a safe and supervised environment is essential to encouraging positive play, experimentation, and exploration. Studies show that clear rules are crucial to maintaining safe spaces that promote healthy development.
Assertive discipline: In your professional life, you might have protocols to deal with specific situations. Raising children gets hectic, and a set process for specific circumstances can help you overcome challenges as they arise.
- Realistic expectations: Patience and self-regulation are vital parenting skills. All children learn at their own speed, and setting realistic expectations for their capabilities helps you step back and see the bigger picture during tantrums and other parenting challenges.
7 benefits of positive parenting
Consistent and mindful parenting helps kids grow into well-rounded and considerate young adults. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy journey. When the going gets tough, here are a few benefits to keep in mind to help you be the best parent you can be.
1. Encourages positive skill building
An obvious objective of positive parenting is encouraging better behavior. This practice focuses on reinforcing good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior, which helps children understand what you expect of them and encourages them to embrace healthy habits.
Positive reinforcement emphasizes choice, which can facilitate an internal locus of control. When children choose to exercise desirable behaviors and receive praise and recognition as a reward, they may feel more in control of their actions.
And people who feel more in control of their life tend to have a stronger sense of personal responsibility and accountability. This self-efficacy will likely have a positive impact throughout their life, encouraging them to set goals and put in the work to achieve them.
2. Better mental well-being
No matter what good parenting looks like in your family, your relationship with your child plays a key role in brain development. Warm and supportive parenting positively affects behavioral and psychological development, influencing mental health and wellness throughout a child’s lifetime.
Positive parenting also promotes soft skills like playfulness, curiosity, and empathy. These invaluable transferable skills set your child up for success in their continued personal and professional development.
3. Improved brain health
Studies show that children raised in stressful environments have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other behavioral problems later in life. Chronic stress can reduce the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain important to learning and memory.
Parents who use positive parenting solutions to problem-solve and reinforce good behavior help children develop resilience and positive coping mechanisms to common stressors, like illness or relationship troubles.
4. A closer relationship with your child
Healthy interpersonal relationships are built on trust, whether it’s a manager-teammate or parent-child connection. Openness and compassion create a safe space that helps children connect and be comfortable feeling vulnerable.
As your child matures and develops their unique identity, the foundation of trust you build can foster self-acceptance and self-esteem. Positive reinforcement and empathy signal that they can turn to you for advice throughout their life, continuously strengthening your relationship.
5. Guides romantic relationships
Studies show that parenting styles impact a child’s future romantic relationships. Children who receive consistent praise and positive physical touch tend to experience higher relationship satisfaction than those who experience more aggressive parenting.
Romantic relationships play a key role in life satisfaction. Healthier partnerships can lead to more relatedness and general fulfillment. And your parenting approach demonstrates acceptable and undesirable relationship dynamics. Consistent open communication and boundary setting might encourage your children to learn and use the same relationship-building skills.
6. Fosters healthy communication skills
Positive parenting creates an open dialogue between you and your child, making space to talk about positive and negative emotions. This open communication encourages your child to talk about their feelings, which teaches them that it’s normal and healthy to express emotions.
Modeling and reinforcing healthy communication also teaches children vital emotional intelligence skills like active listening, respect, and self-reflection. These skills extend far beyond the family unit, helping your child succeed in their personal and professional relationships later in life.
7. Parental well-being
Between professional development, household chores, and life’s unexpected challenges, it’s easy to place your well-being at the end of your to-do list. Positive parenting can help reduce stress by encouraging calm and open communication, which may lead to fewer power struggles and conflicts. And seeing your child’s positive development can also boost your confidence in your parenting capabilities.
Positive parenting also emphasizes the need for a self-care plan. When you’re in a healthy emotional state, you can share the good vibes with your family, so remember to prioritize your wellness as much as your kid’s soccer schedule.
10 positive parenting tips
There’s no “right” way to parent, as each child requires flexibility and unique learning strategies. But here are 10 simple positive parenting tips that’ll be effective in most scenarios.
- Encourage children to openly express their positive and negative feelings without fear of judgment or punishment
- Acknowledge and validate emotions, illustrating that it’s normal and okay to have a wide range of feelings
- Use active listening skills to show sincere interest in your child’s thoughts and experiences by setting aside time for listening, maintaining eye contact, and asking clarifying questions
- Provide specific, genuine praise to support their efforts and encourage continued learning
- Use your actions to teach children how to treat and communicate with others
- Give them opportunities to act independently to bolster their self-reliance, like dressing themselves, completing family chores on their own, and preparing their own breakfast
- Consistently enforce rules and boundaries to create structure and teach self-control
- Prioritize quality time with one-on-one and family bonding activities to foster trust and positivity
- Be kind but firm about rules and consequences to establish clear expectations of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors
- Set aside time to relax and practice self-care, whether it’s a weekly book club, daily swim, or nightly skin routine
Examples of positive parenting
Being a child’s caregiver is a 24/7 job filled with opportunities to practice positive parenting. Here are a few examples:
- Your child is upset: You attentively listen to your child recount a difficult day at school. You set aside potential distractions, nod along, and ask open-ended questions to help them express themselves. You validate how they feel and express how you appreciate that they shared this information with you, making them feel valued and understood.
- A conflict arises over technology time: Your child wants to spend the weekend playing video games despite an established two-hour rule. You acknowledge their frustration, explain the importance of balancing video games with other activities, and remind them of the rule. You also give them suggestions for other activities, like riding their bike or reading a book. Your rule enforcement helps build respect for boundaries and teaches other skills, like time management.
- Your child leaves toys all over the living room despite agreeing to tidy up: Rather than scolding, you put a positive spin on discipline. Positive discipline examples include setting clear “when and then” expectations (When you clean your toys, you can play with your video games), validating their feelings (I understand that cleaning up isn’t very fun, but everyone must help around the house), and positive reinforcement (I really appreciate you helping me keep the place clean).
Positive parenting benefits everyone
There’s no such thing as being a perfect parent. But it’s never a bad idea to learn better techniques to deal with the challenges of raising children.
Positive parenting focuses on creating a positive environment for the entire family. It fosters deeper communication and trust, allowing your child to become the best version of themself, whatever they decide that means. And while the going will sometimes get tough, you’ll be able to channel a positive vibe to get through it all as a family.