One time, after I responded to T’s tantrum in not-the-most dignified way, the hubby asked, “So how’s that positive parenting going?”
As I chopped vegetables, I told him to leave the kitchen or I was positively going to stab him.
There are countless resources that describe positive parenting in great detail.
I like Kars4Kids’ Parenting’s definition, which describes positive parenting as “focused on developing a strong, deeply committed relationship between parent and child based on communication and mutual respect. Positive Parenting focuses on teaching children not just what but also why. Positive parenting means training children toward self-control.”
The websites describes three components to positive parenting:
- Rules and consequences are laid out, discussed often, and followed through.
- Parents focus on helping children internalize discipline, rather than obey orders based on fear of punishment, in order to develop self-discipline.
- Parents use active listening to understand children’s thoughts. This allows parents to correct misunderstandings or mistaken links of logic.
Two years ago, I took a free three-part positive parenting course offered by Surrey Place.
These courses and resources you can find online provide fantastic advice. But as I always say, theory vs practice are two different things.
When you’re in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to think, “OK, what page of the positive parenting manual are we at now?”
Our recent six-week second round of virtual schooling hell was a great example of how despite best efforts, we’re human and we respond in human ways to very stressful situations.
The hubby and I try to approach positive parenting from a few angles:
Listen and empathize.
When T has one of his moments, I try hard not to respond right away but take a deep breath and ask him what’s going on.
Even when he responds in a grumpy way, “I am mad at you, because you are…,” I consider that a huge win. I can work with that.
Pick and choose your battles.
It’s important to teach kids about self discipline and to follow through on consequences, but these concepts are hard to grasp for kids with T’s prognosis.
So we pick and choose our battles. Some things are just not worth becoming the hill to die on.
Remind him he is loved.
We lose our patience with T quite regularly. But I always try to explain to him why I get impatient or lose my cool. Most importantly, I remind him that even when I get mad, I love him.
We want T to develop a positive inside voice.
I’m always mindful of the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
The hubby and I are aware that if any kid hears enough times they are bad, they will internalize that self concept and develop that negative internal dialogue.
We try very hard – and don’t always succeed – to choose our words carefully in how we respond during the most trying times.
Ask for support.
The hubby and I are blessed that we work very well as a team. I know when to step back and let him take over and vice versa.
We’re very lucky to have amazing supports from school, daycare and community services. We’re not shy to ask for advice – as they are so helpful.
Be kind to yourself.
I’m on private groups for parents with special needs kids. I empathize so much with their touching and often gut-wrenching stories.
I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and think to myself, “I wish I could’ve responded to that situation better.”
And I remind myself to let it go. Tomorrow is a fresh start!
With T back in school, it’s been like night and day how much less stressful things are.
It’s been a sobering reminder that kids are emotional sponges and pick up and respond through their behaviours to the environment.
It was a good reminder that despite how trying it can be sometimes, to stay the course and keep it positive. Because positive begets positive.
And if you slip up, oopsie daisy, move on.
The hubby does the morning school drop off but I did drop off this past Monday, because I had to take Ma to a rehab appointment afterwards.
As we neared the school, I wished T an awesome day at school and I told him I love him very much.
He replied, “I already know that. You love me to the moon, to the universe, and back.”
I smiled. Sometimes, I’m never sure if our hyperactive hard-to-focus T is listening.
So it’s comforting to know this is one positive and genuine message he has internalized.