Every day we as parents are bombarded with articles, books, blogs, podcasts, about how we should parent our children, how we should handle tantrums, set limits, punish or reward. However, there is no «one size fits all” answer. Parenting is a roller coaster with ups and downs, but it could (and probably should) be focused on having fun with our children and experiencing this adventure with ease and joy.
As parents, we have been taught that it is our responsibility to make our children happy so we devote ourselves to make that happen, even if it means going against what we know deep in our hearts, that would actually work. When we realize that our children aren’t happy, we judge ourselves as terrible and horrible parents. Is that true? Is it really our job to make our children happy? Is it our job to teach them how to fit into other people’s points of view of what is considered “normal”, so that they can be happy and be “accepted” by others?
Parenting is not about making our children fit into what others consider normal or good behavior: it’s about teaching them to become aware of who they are. Positive parenting aims to connect to our own awareness of what works for our children, whether it is loving words or telling them they are being mean and disrespectful when it is required. It’s about knowing our children and giving them the freedom to be who they are, despite what society considers normal. It’s about teaching children how to choose wisely, based on what that decision will produce in their lives. Positive parenting is watching them choose something and helping them understand that every choice creates an impact in their life and that life doesn’t happen TO them, but that they create the life that they want to live.
Positive parenting is being flexible and understanding that as our children grow and change, and so do we; therefore, we need to learn to choose what works at the moment. It’s about being pragmatic… and choosing what works.
When we become conscious positive parents, children will learn that every choice has an impact; therefore, if they chose something that creates sorrow, pain, fights with other kids, etc. they can acknowledge that they can choose something different. When we do this, children understand that they are in charge of their own lives and we are just here to guide them and help them become aware of this, not to turn them into the children we decided we wanted them to be.
Here are some tips:
- Acknowledge your children as the amazing wonderful beings that they are, even if they show up in a totally different way than what you thought they would be like.
- Don’t assume you know more than them just because you are adults… children are so wise and they know this, probably more than we do!
- Teach them to live without judgment of others and of themselves, they will learn this when you don’t go into judgment of others and of yourself. Judgment only destroys, it doesn’t create.
- Be true to you, do not choose against what you KNOW you should be choosing. This will teach them to trust their inner voices because they see that you trust your inner knowing.
- When faced with a problem always ask them “what can you choose that will change this?” this opens them up to different possibilities rather than asking them to choose what YOU think they should.
- When you are having a terrible day and you are cranky, open yourself and let them know! Don’t sugarcoat your emotions so that they always see you happy, this is confusing. Children have an inner knowing that tells them something is going on, and if you hide whatever you are feeling saying “I am just tired” it will confuse them.
- Let them be sad or angry.
- Let them know when they are being unkind or mean, this will help them work on that awareness muscle of how they are choosing to act.
Written by Eileen Menegazzo, Founder and Psychologist of Innatia Center