Creative Child

The Five Principles of Positive Parenting

by Rebecca Eanes

The foundation of Positive Parenting rests on five principles. These principles go hand in hand to help you build a strong bond with your children and to position you as the effective leader your child needs throughout childhood. This post is adapted from my upcoming book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide.

Principle #1: Attachment

Attachment is a deep, secure emotional bond. Children are hardwired to connect with their caregivers emotionally, and without it, their development is hindered. The bond between primary caregivers and infants is responsible for shaping all our future relationships! It strengthens or damages our ability to focus, be conscious of our feelings and calm ourselves. It can even affect our resilience.

If a secure attachment is made, children will rest in our love and security. They feel safe with us, and this safety provides them room to grow and learn appropriately. If a secure attachment is not made, research tells us that behavioral problems and relationship troubles later in life are likely.

Not only do we want to create a secure bond so that our children can grow and develop properly, but this attachment also makes it easier to guide and correct them. A strong attachment gives us genuine influence, which is far better than forced compliance. Children want to please those they feel connected to. They listen to us and accept our boundaries much more readily when the bond is secure and strong.

To develop a strong attachment, trust is essential. They must feel felt by us. When they feel we are for them, not against them; when they feel we are safe to run to; and when they feel that they are loved and valued, we will have their hearts. Only when we have their hearts do we have real, lasting influence in their lives.

Principle #2: Respect

Respect regarding children is often a one-sided topic. We expect them to show it to adults. The idea of showing respect to children is usually tied to permissiveness or being too “soft,” but this isn’t so. Children learn how to show respect best by living it. We respect a child’s mind when we develop a secure attachment and when we are positive and affirming. We respect a child’s body and dignity when we choose not to use shame or physical punishment. We respect their personhood by allowing space to explore and develop at their own pace, and we respect their spirit by honoring them just the way they are.

Principle #3: Proactive Parenting

I think parents will often wait until a problem arises before teaching the boundaries and skills needed to deal with that particular behavioral issue, but being proactive means putting in the time up front, before a problem arises. It means teaching children how anger feels in the body and giving them ways to deal with it (dinosaur breaths or shake-it-out, for example) before they ever hit or bite a friend.

Proactive parenting means building the relationship and allotting sufficient time for play and connection each day to thwart any behavior problems that could arise from disconnection. It requires us to be watchful at play dates and around babies and pets so that we can intervene at the first sign of a problem.

Proactive parenting also means responding rather than reacting to our children’s behaviors. This requires forethought into how we will handle certain situations. Responsive parents are in control of their emotions and able to respond thoughtfully when a problem arises.

Principle #4: Empathetic Leadership

Too often, Positive Parenting is confused with permissiveness. This is unfortunate because they are completely opposite. Positive parents are very much in a leadership role with their children. It just doesn’t look like the dictatorship we’ve come to recognize as typical. Empathy is an important part of leadership because it draws us closer and provides that important attachment. When children feel understood and know that we are on their side, they accept our leadership. 

Principle #5: Positive Discipline

Positive discipline moves beyond punishment and toward problem-solving. Children don’t learn life lessons with their noses in a corner. Positive discipline holds them accountable by teaching them how to own up to and fix their mistakes. It gives them the skills and tools necessary to do better in the future and focuses on their capabilities, not their mistakes. Read my article 3 Steps to Positive Discipline here.

As you can see, these principles compliment each other, and you can’t really have one without the other. Begin building your foundation of positive parenting with a healthy attachment to your child. The work may not be easy at first. You may have to shake off many common misconceptions about what it means to be a parent and leader, but once the work of laying your foundation is started, it will be rewarding.

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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