Stay positive. That’s a phrase you might say to your child if they’re struggling with a challenging or frustrating situation. But how often do you take your own advice to stay positive when dealing with them?
Your parenting style impacts your child’s development in many ways. Focusing on positive parent-child interaction, also known as positive parenting style, can help children’s social, emotional, behavioral, and academic development. It’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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What Is a Positive Parenting Style?
Positive parenting involves creating a loving, caring environment in which your child can grow and thrive. One definition calls positive parenting “the continual relationship of a parent(s) and a child or children that includes caring, teaching, leading, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently and unconditionally.”
What the research says
There are numerous studies and books on the research behind positive parenting. Here’s a small sample of how positive parenting benefits children:
- It’s linked to a lower risk of adolescent depression and anxiety.
- It helps their social interactions. Young children who receive love, compassion, and empathy from their mothers share what they have more generously with others.
- Positive parenting interventions in early childhood can reduce the risk of obesity in preadolescence.
- Parental warmth in childhood has benefits into adulthood, including better mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. It also provides protection against negative outcomes such as smoking and drug use.
- Middle school students who experienced positive parenting had greater academic engagement and achievement and greater self-esteem.
Examples of Positive Parenting in Action
No one ever said parenting is easy. Your child will most likely try your patience at least once in their lives, if not multiple times a week or day.
There’s a lot that goes into positive parenting. And what your child needs from you at each age and stage of their life will change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks down positive parenting tips into 8 different life stages from infancy to age 17.
Chances are if you’re reading this blog post, you care about helping your child grow, learn, and develop. Here are some general tips to guide you in positive parenting:
- The AAP recommends avoiding verbal and physical punishment. Spanking, hitting, humiliating, insulting, shaming, or yelling at children increases their stress hormones and changes their brain’s architecture. Instead, offer your children the support they need to turn a negative behavior or situation around.
- Set consistent rules and reinforce appropriate behavior. When children know what’s expected of them, they feel more secure. If the rules keep changing, it can confuse and frustrate your child, and they won’t know how they should behave.
- Use positive
reinforcement strategies where children earn privileges (such as earning
screen time) instead of negative consequences (such as taking away screen
time) to help support positive behaviors.
- Show your child that you love them. Telling your children you love them is important, as is showing affection. Engage in small gestures, like reading to them, texting encouragement like “have a great day at school,” or making their favorite meal.
- Spend quality time with your children. Eating meals together as a family reinforces the parent-child bond. It also provides an opportunity to discuss their day.
- Speak from a place of calm. From infants to adolescents, your children will respond better if you speak to them in a calm or soothing voice. If you sound angry or annoyed, they are likely to respond in the same manner (or cry, if they’re a baby).
- Talk with your children. Engage in active listening. Give your child a chance to explain what they’re thinking and feeling instead of assuming you know.
- Show interest in what your child likes. That may mean getting excited about toy trains or woodland fairies, or their favorite video game or TikTok star. When you show you care about their likes and dislikes, it shows you value and accept them as their own person.
- Celebrate their successes instead of focusing on their failures. Praising their accomplishments is important, but praising their effort is even better. Praising effort fosters a growth mindset, which motivates a child to learn.
- Support them in their decision-making instead of making all their decisions for them. Teaching your child to become independent is one of your main goals as a parent. Give them the options and guidance they need to make good choices.
- Model good behavior. Children learn by your example. Make sure your own actions match what you expect of them.
Positive Parenting Tips. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link.
Principles of Positive Parenting. American Academy of Pediatrics. Link.
AAP recommends positive discipline rather than physical, verbal punishment. American Academy of Pediatrics. Link.
What is Positive Parenting? A Look at the Research and Benefits. PositivePsychology.com. Link.
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.