25 June, 2009


Positive Parenting

Who Rules The Roost?
As they grow older, children appear to learn more and more. In fact most eight year olds know most things, and all ten year old know everything! Here's how to maintain some semblance of control in the crazy world of kids!!

We've survived the beastly babies, terrifying toddlers, and intolerable infants. Just as we think we are getting somewhere our eight year olds begin to think they're teens, and our teens plan to take over the world. This stage in life can easily descend into a battle, if not open warfare, but it doesn't have to be this way. Positive parenting is not some catchphrase invented to make you feel inferior, and isn't just the domain of that grinning "Super Parent" you often see outside of school.

walking baby

What Is Positive Parenting?
When our kids start to misbehave it's very easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative behaviour. For example: little Billy does something "naughty", you tell him off, making a critical comment about him. Billy feels hurt at the comment, and responds with a defiant comment of his own, or throws a tantrum. You then respond with a harsher comment, shout or even hit him. This just creates further resentment for you both, leaves the matter unresolved, and hurts Billy due to the smack.

This type of event is common, happening daily throughout the country. But this doesn't mean this is all right. This type of approach never truly resolves discipline issues, just instils fear and resentment into family relationships. In fact, this approach just becomes part of a larger repeating pattern, where you begin to feel like a "broken record" that does nothing but shout at the children. You are unlikely to want this, and your children don't want it either.

Positive Parenting is geared more towards being clear, specific and positive about what we expect from our children. By telling children that you would like them to do something, rather than not to do something, they are more likely to do what you wish. What you see as cheeky or rebellious is often your child's natural urge to develop their own independence, or express their own opinions or thoughts. This is not in general being "bad", this is part of their growing up. These qualities may irritate you, but they are crucial to your child's social and emotional development and well-being. No matter how rebellious they may appear, or like to appear, they still need lots of love and reassurance.


Why Do They Do What They Do?
Sometimes it feels like your child was designed to wind you up and irritate you. They can appear to have an unnatural instinct for chaos and mayhem. Children test the limits you set them constantly, occasionally crossing boundaries you wouldn't believe possible. They do not do this to purely get on your nerves, this is how they learn what is and isn't OK and provides them with their perspective on what the world expects of them. There are several reasons your child may be behaving wilfully or badly.

Attention Seeking - Are you busy doing other things? Remember you are the most important person in your child's life right now. They will do anything to get your attention.

Revenge - Ever been mistreated and wanted revenge? Life teaches us what we can and can't do to get our own back. Your child may not have learned this lesson yet. Therefore they may be trying to get even for a real or perceived injustice. This is particularly common amongst siblings.

Feeling Powerless - lack of control is scary, even for adults. If you child is anxious at not being in control, they may lash out. Again this is common with siblings or friends.

Feeling Bad - It's difficult to deal with emotions. Adults can often struggle with them, and children naturally share this difficulty due to their lack of life experience. Your child may be trying to tell you they are feeling sad or worried and need affection or sympathy. Telling them off just makes things worse.

Natural Development - Children may struggle to do as they are told because of the age or stage they have reached. Check out your expectations, are they really reasonable for your child, or are you being unfair?

rubber duckies

Top Tips For All Ages


  • Being loving, gentle and comforting - Introduce routines gently - be sensitive to your baby's needs.
  • Distraction is useful - if your baby gets hold of something he or she shouldn't, don't just snatch, distract by pointing something out or using a toy. This will help resolve the panic, without causing upset.
  • Make difficult points interesting - strap them into a rocket - not just a car seat. Climb a mountain, not the stairs.
  • Never smack or shout at a baby - this doesn't help this situation, makes you feel awful, and hurts and scares you baby.
child alone


  • Have clear and simples rules - having regular rules and routines reduce the need for confrontations.
  • Try not to say no - When they make demands saying "no" creates conflict, try "soon" or "later", this is less likely to create problems. There will be times when you do need to say "no", but look for an alternative where possible.
  • Avoid ultimatums - another source of conflict.
  • Acknowledge your toddler's feelings - their feelings can be a source of difficult behaviour. Acknowledge them and consider how to be supportive.
  • Praise - praise all good behaviour you want to encourage. Your toddler loves praise and will respond by repeating good behaviour if praised.
  • Ignore - try to ignore minor misbehaviour. What's worse, the behaviour, or the conflict that will arise from you challenging them.
  • Keep calm - it may be difficult, but if you are able to remain reasonable whilst your toddler throws a strop, the situation is less likely to deteriorate than if you join in.
  • Don't Smack - smacking will always make tantrums and bad behaviour worse. It can also make your child afraid of you.
bathroom routine

School Children

  • Listen to them - as children get older, they undergo all sorts of changes. These can be unsettling, and sometimes scary for them. Be alert to any worries they may have, try to be supportive and responsive.
  • Be specific - if you want them to do something, make sure they understand. "Go and tidy your room" is OK, but "Can you pick up the things off your bedroom floor?" may be better.
  • Minimise the amount of orders - you may be a military family, and you or your partner may be used to giving orders, however your children do not wear a uniform and are unlikely to "jump to it". Dos and don'ts can be very overwhelming for young children.
  • Praise - children and adults like to receive praise. As your child gets older he or she will continue to need praise for good behaviour, but this may need to be more specific.
  • Consequences - your child is now old enough to understand actions and consequences. Explaining that if they do not do their homework, they will be in trouble at school, or that they will need to tidy their room if they make a mess. Equally, you can introduce rewards for positive behaviours.
  • Never criticise your child - the behaviour is bad, unacceptable or plain wrong, your child is not. Criticising your child will create bad feeling and result in more difficult behaviour, not less.
  • Never Smack - this provides a bad example, after all if you can smack, why can't they? Smacking is an unconstructive way to deal with strong emotions, hurts your child, and can damage your relationship.


  • Keep talking - your teen may appear to have lost his or her ability to talk, but they still need love, respect and support.
  • Try not to judge - things have changed since you were a teen.
  • Minimise criticism - part of their growing up is making decisions. With this comes making mistakes. You may have been down that road yourself, but they haven't, and they need to learn by their own experiences. This doesn't mean, however, that you should just let them get on with things…be responsive and supportive to any concerns or questions they have…and be ready to pick up the pieces.
  • Guide them - you can't dictate their future, but you can guide them.
  • Have clear boundaries - like all the preceding years, they will keep pushing the boundaries. Keep your rules clear, with reasonable consequences, such as stoppage of pocket money, and things should work out in the end.
  • Try not to use threats - threats and orders invite rebellion. This will just be counterproductive for you both.
  • Negotiate - your teenager can think through problems logically - talk and negotiate if disagreements occur - this is far more likely to produce agreeable results for you both.
  • Accept some conflict - this is a very turbulent and confusing time for a child and conflict is inevitable. Your choice lies with how you respond; remember you are the adult, respond like one.
  • Never hit - hitting teenagers is likely to make them more defiant, can undermine their self-esteem at a vulnerable time, and damage your relationship.
help on computer


No matter what age your child or children are, using positive parenting techniques is not easy. It can be hard work and you cannot do it perfectly all the time. Life is hard, you get tired, they get tired, and tempers fray. However these techniques do produce better results for the whole family, and requires less effort than continual conflict. Positive Parenting is about having a positive approach to get a more positive outcome for you and your children.

More Info On Approaching Parenting Positively

website Web site: Kids Direct

website Web site: BBCi Parenting Pages

website Web site: Practical Parenting

website Web site: Parentline Plus

website Web site: NSPCC

website Web site: e-parents

website Web site: National Family & Parenting Institute

help on computer

Who Can Help?
You can discuss any problems with your GP or Health Visitor. In an emergency call 999. Additionally, NPFS or RM Welfare can offer support to families experiencing difficulties.

Phone Icon Phone: 0808 800 5000 - NSPCC (24 hr)

Phone Icon Phone: 020 7404 5011 - Cry-sis Helpline (Open 8 am - 11pm)

info More Information: Dealing with Parental Stress

info More Information: NPFS / RM Welfare

info More Information: RNCom Helpdesk

website Web site: Home-Start

website Web site: Parentline Plus

website Web site: NSPCC

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