Creative Child

5 Tips for Practicing Positive Parenting in 2020

by Rebecca Eanes

It’s been a weird year. As our schedules and routines have been destroyed by COVID-19, many of us have been thrown off track and left to stew in the chaos. If your attempts at positive parenting have been less than positive lately, don’t despair. I’ll help you get back to the basics so you can get back on track to finish strong in 2020. 

Discipline Yourself First

This is always the first rule of positive parenting. Until we have regulated our emotions, we can’t really help our children regulate theirs. Chances are you’re feeling pretty frazzled and exhausted which may lead to greater anxiety and a shorter-than-normal fuse. Managing your anxiety and frustrations during this tumultuous time is crucial to showing up for your kids in a warm, positive, and loving way. Learn some quick and easy calming techniques for stressful situations, such as visualization, using your five senses, or hand massage. Try to ensure you’re getting adequate rest, exercise, and nutrition, and cultivate a mindfulness practice such as yoga, meditation, or journaling. 

Connect Before You Correct

This is another basic of positive parenting that is easy to forget or forgo when we’re busy, stressed, or rushed, but it makes a huge difference when we practice it regularly.  Connecting first opens a direct line to the heart so that your message gets through. Children who feel strongly connected to us are more open to our instruction and influence. Connecting first is as simple as a hug, eye contact and a touch on the shoulder, or saying “I love you.” For example, instead of going straight to a harsh tone to correct such as “Stop it right now! I’ve told you to leave the cat alone,” you could get down on eye level, make eye contact and smile, and say “You must leave the cat alone. She’s getting irritated; see how her tail is twitching?” 

Empathizing and validating are two more excellent ways to connect with your child before offering correction. “I understand why you’re angry. Your brother took your toy. Pushing him down isn’t a good way to deal with your anger because it hurts him, so let’s practice big elephant breaths to make the anger leave.” When your child feels heard and understood, he’s more likely to be cooperative.

Use Positive Discipline Tools

I know that time-out is quick and may even seem temporarily effective, but punishments end up creating more misbehavior in the end because they trigger an anxiety response and pile on to the negative feelings that are causing misbehavior in the first place. Time-outs are particularly troublesome for young children who do not fully understand the separation and view it as a withdrawal of love. This can be very alarming to the brain. The same goes for spanking and yelling.

Replace time-outs with time-in. This article explains how to do a time-in in detail. Replace punishments or “consequences” with problem-solving. Read this article for more alternatives to punishment. 

Build Your Relationship

Having a healthy, loving, positive relationship with your child is the key to positive parenting. Sometimes the relationship can suffer in the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life, so you can imagine that, in 2020, it’s even more challenging to maintain that positive bond. Yes, you’ve probably been spending more time at home with your child than usual during quarantine, and maybe that’s been a real positive for your family! For many, though, the stresses of homeschooling, working from home, and juggling many things has taken a toll on family relationships. If you’ve been yelling more, correcting more, or noticing defiance, it’s a signal that your relationship needs a bit of repair work. No worries! Spending quality time together laughing, talking, and playing will do the trick! 

Be a Good Mirror

Our children come to see themselves as we see them. They believe the messages we give them about who they are and what they’re worth. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of our language and not use words like “difficult” or “naughty” or “bad.” If we want our kids to see themselves as kind, capable, good, lovable, and worthy, we must treat them as though they are and give them those positive messages. We need to become light reflectors, always focusing on the light in our kids and reflecting it back to them so they can see it too. When people believe they are good at the core, they’ll behave as though they are.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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