Maintaining good health is vastly more important and effective than later treating illness. Good health takes effort: regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, wearing seat belts, not smoking, and not abusing alcohol and drugs; in other words, doing the “good stuff,” and avoiding the “bad stuff.”
Likewise, raising healthy children is vastly more important and effective than later correcting misbehavior. It takes effort and commitment to nurture the “good stuff”-loving connections, empathy, meeting their needs. Unfortunately, most of the parenting books of the last two generations have focused on correcting misbehavior and fixing problems.
Positive parents work to develop the “good stuff.” They build trust and competence; identify and encourage strengths and talents, maintain loving connections, and create fun, joy, and happiness. In a nutshell: positive parents teach, comfort, and play.
When moms and dads (and other adults who care for kids) address their own personal development along with the development of the children, everyone learns and grows. Caring adults can prevent isolation, fear and anxiety, as well as anti-social, self-destructive, and violent behaviors.
Building a family is like building a house. You start with a vision and plans. Then, you build a firm foundation. Step by step, you move forward. If any steps are missed, there’s make-up work to be done, which is harder than doing it “right” from the start. With parenting, we cannot turn back the clock. We must start right now, right where we are to do the right thing.
“The Big Picture”
Positive parenting begins with “the big picture.” Remember the optimistic vision you had when you started your family. Write it down. Embroider it and frame it, or simply put it somewhere where you will notice it every day. Parents who have shared their goals with me say that they want their children to:
• “be happy and well-adjusted,”
• “be successful,”
• “be themselves while contributing to the world,”
• “be open and give back to the world,”
• “have high self-esteem and self-worth,”
• “be healthy-in body, mind, and spirit”
• “love learning,”
• “be respectful and loving,”
• “be able to express themselves,”
• “be respectful and caring of nature,” and most important:
“not have to spend their adult life recovering from their childhood.”
Clarify your vision. It gives meaning and purpose to your life. It can guide everything that happens on a day-by-day basis, and sustain you through the tough times. All those “little things” you do contribute to the success of the “big picture” goal.
The early years of feeding, washing, dressing, driving, and otherwise engaging with children present enormous opportunities. Make the most of this time in order to ensure a positive life trajectory for your youngsters.
“When things go right early on, they will tend to continue to go right and even to self-correct if there are minor problems.
But when they go wrong at first, they will tend to continue to go wrong.”
-Dr. Bruce Perry, author and renowned child psychiatrist
How we raise our children is to a large extent based on how we were raised-what comes “naturally”.
We have all been wounded, and want it to be better for our own children. We can stop the unintentional repetition of harmful patterns from one generation to the next by learning positive parenting.
“Let’s raise our children so they won’t have to recover from their childhood.”
-Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting
Positive parenting invites us to examine our own upbringing. It requires rewriting the old fear-based “script” we learned during our early years and developing a new love-based approach. This takes determination and patience. When learning positive interaction tools and skills and developing a different style, we can heal our hearts and souls in the process.
Changing family patterns is heroic work! Those who suffered in childhood can still become wonderful parents to their children. They are Renaissance Moms and Renaissance Dads!
Positive parenting is a pro-active, uplifting approach based on respect and responsibility. It uses non-punitive discipline by teaching and holding children accountable with kindness and firmness. Uplifting, loving adults bolster inner strength, resilience, self-esteem, and social and emotional well-being. They bring out the best in everyone!
These are a few of the rewards you will get from practicing positive parenting:
Caring, cooperative, confident, and resilient children.
Deeper connections based on trust and communication.
More satisfaction and fun in the good times, and support during the hard times.
Pride and gratitude as children grow and flourish.
There is no better feeling than knowing you have raised a healthy family that will forever be connected at the heart.