Positive Parenting

And again, I mean positive in the psychology meaning, not the touchy feely way. But to be fair, there is a lot of overlap here.

My parenting style for Elizabeth is to ask her things in a positive way. Not to build her self esteem or anything, but because it works better. When I say in a positive way, I don’t mean things like “sweet baby, pretty please stop climbing on your daddy’s face.” I mean saying things like “please put your feet on the floor.”

Babies and toddlers have a difficult time understanding abstract concepts. And things like “stop” “don’t” “quit it” are very abstract. You can’t show a baby how to do “don’t.” It works much, much better if you tell them what to do, instead of what NOT to do.

For example, instead of telling Elizabeth “don’t throw the ball,” we told her “drop the ball!”  And it worked beautifully, she no longer throws.  (Except for the one soft ball that she is allowed to throw, as seen in her fetch video.)  And she adores taking her wooden balls and dropping them on the wood floor, to see the bounce and roll.  She used to hurl them across the room, making us all fear for our lives.

Now, you can argue that kids do need to learn what things like “no” and “stop” and “don’t” actually mean.  Absolutely they do.  The best way to do this is to combine those commands with a positive command so that they can link the behaviors together to understand.  For example, I usually say “Elizabeth, please stop standing on the dishwasher.  Put your feet on the floor instead.”  (Plus, it is hard to overcome a lifetime of saying “stop!”  This gives you the ability to tack on the positive command to the end of the sentence, when you remember.)

When she was little, we taught her “hands up!” instead of “stop grabbing that!”  Now that she’s older and can distinguish things a little bit better, she’s allowed to “touch, touch” with one finger or “stroke” instead of grabbing and picking up.  (It’s very useful for things like stores or other people’s houses, where she wants to explore everything.)  Another great example is Farah teaching MT “back away” instead of “stop.”

What are your thoughts?  Have you tried this technique?