Creative Child

When Positive Parenting Doesn't Work

by Rebecca Eanes

Rarely do I hear from parents who have tried the positive parenting approach and felt it wasn’t working. Most often, moms and dads tell me that it transformed their relationships and that their children behave better. Occasionally, though, I’ve heard “I’m doing it, but it’s not working!” It’s impossible to tell what is causing the problem because every child, parent, and household is so unique. However, there are six common circumstances that might cause positive parenting attempts to feel like a failure. 


You’re being permissive.

Connected relationships are the foundation of positive parenting. When a child has a secure attachment with his caregiver, he is more cooperative. As parents, we have the most influence on children when we have their hearts. This doesn’t mean, however, that we tiptoe around our kids, afraid to set any limit that would cause them to be upset with us for fear of damaging the relationship. Positive parents are still very much in the leadership role and we must set limits and maintain boundaries.

So, if you’re finding that you’re letting your child overstep boundaries just to avoid conflict or confrontation, it’s likely that you’re being too permissive. Work on being firm and kind at the same time. Envision yourself as a calm and capable pilot. A little turbulence doesn’t fluster you. If you’re unsure what to do when your kids overstep their boundaries, try these positive parenting alternatives to time-out that work.


You’re not living the messages you’re preaching.

Who we are to our kids matters more than what we say. Children watch us – how we handle ourselves, how we react, how we behave – and they imitate what they see. The old “do as I say, not as I do” adage doesn’t work in positive parenting because it requires escalating punishments to make kids comply when their natural inclination is to do what their parents do. To have the greatest positive impact, make sure your own behavior is in line with the messages and values you want your kids to live by.

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