Positive parenting enables you to really enjoy being with your toddler, and allows your toddler to really enjoy growing up in your family. Supportive parenting is not permissive parenting, where a child is allowed to do pretty much whatever he or she wants, and it’s not strict parenting, where every step off the center ‘good-behavior’ line gets a quick spanking, but it’s a way of providing guidance, gentle discipline, and limits in a context of positive acceptance.
Those two words may look strange side by side: can positive and discipline really go together? They can, and they should. Here are some tips to changing the discipline in your house to a positive experience for both you and your toddler.
• No bad children: When your toddler misbehaves, that doesn’t make him a bad child. Separate the act and the person, and explain that the behavior is bad, and that it’s not what you want from your (good) child.
• Give the benefit of the doubt: If there’s a doubt as to intentions, assume the best. If, after the meal, the toddler grabs the glass salad bowl from the table and runs with it to the sink, crashing on the ground and breaking the bowl into a thousand pieces, don’t assume he was trying to be naughty. Instead, first applaud him for trying to help, and then suggest he take non-breakable dishes next time.
• Stick with your limits—but show your toddler how to work with them: If you’ve said no more screen time today, don’t let him turn on the TV again, but remind him that there’ll be lots of cartoons tomorrow. Then take out something else he enjoys playing and show him what fun it is.
• Stay respectful: Toddlers are people too, and your toddler will behave much better if you teach him right and wrong and show him his limits in a loving, respectful manner.
You can buy bookshelves full of parenting books telling you what to do in every situation, but the key to constructive parenting is really your attitude. As a parent, you have an enormous responsibility: it is your attitude which sets the tone of the whole house. If you are cheerful, loving, and optimistic, it is as if the summer sunshine was beaming into your house and in the heart of your toddler. If you are grumpy, annoyed and irritable, your little one is living in an inhospitable winter storm.
A moody person is hard to live with for anyone, and for an utterly dependent little toddler, it is especially difficult. You want your toddler to wake up every morning knowing that, whatever the weather may be outside, the sun will be shining indoors. If he wakes up uncertain on that point, not knowing whether mommy will be positive and sunny or a negative storm cloud, he’ll be liable to be cross and irritable himself. That’ll make you worse, of course, and then he’ll be more miserable—an unending cycle of negativity.
Even a cynic can become an optimist; the amount of love you have for your child is the only limiting factor. Put away the negativity and second-guessing during family times, and try positive parenting instead.