Every day, parents are surrounded with conflicting advice, from “use tough love” to “let kids be free.” If you’re like most parents, you probably fall somewhere in between those two schools of thought. But is it possible to practice positive parenting, while still raising principled, disciplined kids? The answer is yes — by parenting with love and logic.
Parenting With Love and Logic
When it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, positive parenting means not just hugs and praise, but also teaching little ones that actions have consequences. This is also the time to start allowing young children to make small choices, even when they can’t change the big rules.
For example, kids need to learn early that when Mom or Dad say it’s bedtime — it’s bedtime! However, positive parenting allows for you to give your children small choices within that framework. Let them choose whether the light stays on or off, what pajamas they’ll wear, and which two books they want you to read before the lights go out.
Parenting with love and logic also means that the way in which you phrase things motivates your kids to do the right thing. “I’m happy you sat down when I asked, because now we can eat — thank you!” is far more likely to motivate a child to keep up that good behavior than hissing ‘’Get over there — now!” would be.
Don’t forget, too, how important it is for your kids to see you being courteous and helpful with your spouse (or co-parent). That level of demonstrated mutual respect additionally helps reinforce the merits of good behavior to your kids.
Once kids start school, they’ll have the pressures of learning the proper way to behave well — not just at home, but also with their teachers and other authority figures, as well as other kids their age. That’s a lot of responsibility to place of little shoulders, and positive parenting is all about helping it become second nature to them.
Homework is one of the first responsibilities imposed by non-parents that kids have to contend with. When parents reinforce the importance of getting it done, they’re not just backing up their kids’ teachers, but also providing their children with an early grounding in how to become self-disciplined.
By reminding children that they are “free” to play outside, or text their friends, as soon as they get through with their after-school assignments, you’ll truly be parenting with love and logic. School-aged kids have reached the age at which they begin to feel good about rewarding themselves for privileges that they’ve actually earned.
The grade school years are also a great time to reinforce the importance of talking to you and other adults with respect — a habit that will prove helpful as they reach their moody teen years. Letting them know that you won’t answer their questions when they’re demanding things from you, or when their voices are raised, is an especially effective tool to have in your positive parenting tool kit.
Pre-Teens and Teens
Adolescence is an especially insecure period for almost everyone. While that doesn’t mean that teens can be left off the hook when it comes to discipline, it does mean that it’s more important than ever to “catch them doing something right,” as positive parenting advocates call it. Make sure to point out to your preteen or teenager that you’ve noticed an achievement, or a kindness that they’ve done — or even that they’ve had a great attitude lately.
As they progress into high school, many teens — and their parents — become increasingly stressed on the subject of college. Don’t let pressure from your child’s peer group (as well as your own friends) tempt your family to focus exclusively on building your teen’s “resume” for college. It’s far too easy for priorities to get skewed when that happens.
Instead of trying to get your teen out of trouble, or wheedling her teacher into overlooking some missed assignments — all in the name of protecting her college prospects — it’s better to stand back and allow her to face the consequences.
Of course, every parent wants to protect his or her child, whether she’s a toddler or a high school senior. But in the long run, parenting with love and logic is all about building character.