While it is useful to have some general guidelines when it comes to effective parenting, examples usually make things clearer to understand and easier to remember.
To clearly demonstrate how the basic rules of positive parenting can be used in everyday life, the example of a child jumping on a couch can be used (Parry-Cruwys, 2018). This is an example of a behavior that is not simply annoying for a parent to watch, but has safety issues (the children may fall and hurt themselves) among others (the couch may break).
How can you collaborate with your children to establish a rule around jumping on the couch? The first step is to start the conversation with leading questions. What would happen if the couch was broken? Maybe the family won’t be able to sit on the couch and watch TV. So, a rule that would mimic possible natural consequences, be age appropriate and make sense, would be to lose the privilege of watching TV for the rest of the day. It is important to not put unrealistic or harsh rules (e.g. “no TV for a week” would be harsh and possibly unrealistic). Rules like that increase life’s predictability and can make things easier for both children and parents.
Children are aware of what is expected of them: when they break a rule, especially one they have previously agreed on, it is easier to see that it is their responsibility, and they have denied themselves a privilege. Of course, children will always try to make the parents cave in. This is where you need to be consistent on the rules you have set. This is also why you should have a conversation when the children are ready to talk. If they are too upset, you should give them some space and time to calm down first.
To make sure that the children have understood your agreement, a good practice is to have them tell you what they know, instead of you doing the talking. Have they told you, what would happen if they would choose to start jumping? You can always remind them of the rule and it is always a good idea to praise them for having this conversation with you.
Your relationship with your child is invaluable when kept strong. For this reason, before saying something, stop and think: is this going to change the possibility of something happening? Is it going to make things better? If the answer is no, maybe it is better to not say anything. Remember: positive parenting is hard work, but the behavior change has more chances to last.
If you are struggling with parenting and this is affecting you and your family life, it may be a good idea to seek professional help.
Elena Marinopoulou is a Behavior Analyst with the Willingness Team. She works with children and adults and has a strong interest in parent training, sleep and feeding issues emerging during childhood, as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Latham, G. (2003). The power of positive parenting. P & T ink.
Parry-Cruwys, R. (2018). Episode 67 – Positive Parenting, pt. 1,. ABA Inside Track [Podcast]. Retrieved 29 December 2021.