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5 Tips for Positive and Proactive Parenting

5 Tips for Positive and Proactive Parenting

Today’s post is courtesy of Amy McCready of the Positive Parenting Solutions.

Boy cryingIt’s 5:30. Dinner needs to be made, homework needs to be done, the house is a mess, and then there’s soccer practice at 6:30. So when the sibling battle royale breaks out in the next room, the frustration gets the best of us and we raise our voice. In our crazy, uber-scheduled lives, we often find ourselves parenting reactively, and not always in the most positive way.

As a recovering yeller, I used to react to behavior like whining, tantrums and sibling spats by getting frustrated and raising my voice. Sometimes it stopped the behavior in the moment; sometimes it escalated the power struggle. But it never worked in the long-term. Don’t worry if you’ve lost your temper with your kids before. Forgive yourself and move on, one tip at a time. Before long, you’ll see a difference in yourself and feel more empowered. Your kids will be more cooperative and capable. As someone who’s been there, I can tell you that there are simple things you can do – starting today – to parent more positively and proactively. Try starting with these tips.

5 Tips for Positive and Proactive Parenting

1. Let kids be kids. You can’t expect an 18-month-old to share, so be realistic about your child’s stage of development and what’s appropriate behavior for that age. If you’re not sure what to expect at different stages of development, talk to your child’s Bright Horizons teacher or visit for resources on development by age.

2. Find the motive. Kids don’t misbehave just because they can – it’s usually an indication that something else is going on. Misbehavior always tells us something, so try to uncover why your child is acting out. If your daughter gets whiny and clingy at pick-up time, she might be trying to let you know she needs some of your undivided attention, one-on-one, when you’re not busy with dinner, your iPhone, or her siblings, for example. Your son might be refusing to cooperate with his normal household responsibilities or with other simple tasks you’ve asked him to do. In that case, he might feel micro-managed and tired of doing everything your way. He’s looking to have more control over his own world and make his own decisions. When you know what might be causing misbehavior, you can address it head-on and see results.

3. Invest in one-on-one time. Make it a priority to carve out about 10 to 15 minutes of individual one-on-one time with each of your children every day. Your kids want and need your undivided attention. When they don’t get it in a positive, proactive way, they’re hard-wired to seek it out in any way they can get it, even if it means they get a negative reaction from you. Reduce whining, tantrums, interrupting, clinging and other misbehaviors by finding time everyday to be present in mind, body and soul with your kids. We’re all over-scheduled, but just know that you’ll get that time back 10-fold in good behavior and the joy of building emotional connections with your child.

4. Let kids make the call. Kids of all ages need to feel they have some control over their own world. Give them the power they need by giving them age-appropriate choices and limit how much you’re ordering, correcting and directing them. Involve them in decisions when appropriate, and ask for their feedback on how things are done. A toddler can choose which color cup he has for dinner, while preschoolers can pick out their own clothes for school the next morning. Siblings can figure out a system for who unloads the dishwasher on which day and who picks the film for weekly movie night. Kids of all ages should choose the activity during their one-on-one time with you. When kids feel a sense of age-appropriate control over their own world, they won’t feel the need to fight your decisions as much.

5. Take time for training. Training helps kids understand appropriate behaviors and how to make better choices, so don’t jump right to consequences or punishment when they act up. When young kids slip up, stop and have them role-play a do-over. “I know that you want the truck your sister is playing with, but we can’t grab it out of her hands. Let’s practice what we can do next time.” While we may feel like kids need to “pay” for their misbehavior with punishment, we need to remember that consequences should help kids learn from the situation. If you’ve already worked on training and and still feel consequences are warranted, make sure to follow the five Rs of fair and effective consequences, which are adapted from Jane Nelsen, Ed.D and Positive Discipline: respectful, related to the misbehavior, reasonable in duration, revealed in advance and repeated back. Talk to kids ahead of time, so they know what to expect.

By starting small with a few tips today, you can set yourself on a path to more proactive, positive parenting.

Editor’s Note: For more of Amy’s strategies, watch our Bright Horizons webinar on Parenting: Being Positive & Proactive.

Amy McCready Positive Parenting SolutionsParenting expert and “recovering yeller” Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. Amy is a regular parenting contributor on The TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Steve Harvey and elsewhere. In her most important role, she plays mom to two teenage boys. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyMcCreadyPPS.


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