To back up the positive parenting tips laid out in this article, all of the research has been discussed in our ‘What is Positive Parenting?’ piece, which provides a highly comprehensive compilation of evidence-based positive parenting techniques.
If you’re looking for some more actionable positive parenting tips and techniques, including workbooks, then this is the article for you.
This article contains:
A List of Positive Parenting Techniques, Strategies, and Practices
Along with a positive parenting style, it is instructive to break-down the actual behavioral practices of positive parents.
Here are 20 suggestions:
- Really communicate with your child, as an active listener and without the use of criticism or sarcasm.
- Ensure open communication that enables your child to talk-out and work-through problems.
- Support your child’s autonomy, individuality, and self-confidence by encouraging him/her to safely explore the world and try new things.
- Be a good student by learning about your child’s developmental needs.
- Be a good teacher by guiding and leading your child in order to provide a variety of valuable learning opportunities.
- Really pay attention to your child beginning as early as infancy by learning to effectively read his/her signals.
- Empower your child with the resilience of optimism by modeling a hopeful and positive disposition.
- Encourage healthy development by reinforcing your child’s strengths, interests, and capabilities.
- Help your child learn effective coping strategies that he/she will ultimately be able to apply autonomously.
- Encourage your child’s emotional intelligence by being a positive emotional coach who talks-through issues through rather than dismissing difficult topics.
- Provide clear boundaries and expectations for behavior; and use effective, non-harsh, positive discipline practices.
- Use logical and, whenever possible, appropriate natural consequences for behavior.
- Positively interact and play with your child often while expressing enthusiasm and joy.
- Encourage family activities in order to promote family bonding and to create lasting memories.
- Empower your child with a voice by holding regular family meetings.
- Pay attention to what your child or adolescent is up to by supervising and monitoring his/her activities in a way that is developmentally appropriate.
- Protect your child from overuse of technology (i.e., computers, smartphones, tablets, video games, and television), and pay particular attention to violent media exposure.
- Teach your child about the long-term dangers and pitfalls of social media by monitoring his/her online behaviors and providing clear examples of unsafe online behaviors.
- Provide your child with appropriate coping resources (i.e., teachers and role models, after-school programs, religion, extracurricular activities, books and learning materials, counselors, etc.) in order to promote resilience and provide support during difficult times. (For tips, see How to Build Resilience in Children)
- Always parent with unconditional love and thus teach your child that, regardless of making mistakes along the way or possessing qualities that are different from yours, you will love him/her no matter what.
42 Tips and Skills to Start Using Today
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2014) is an excellent resource for parents interested in enhancing their positive parenting skills. Parenting tips are broken down by the child’s age in order to address key developmental needs. More detailed information is available on the CDC website, which also contains useful positive parenting tip sheets.
Here are some examples of the CDC’s recommendations, along with links to the tip sheets:
Infants (0-1 Year)
- Ensure safety by child-proofing your home, and taking precautions in other key areas (i.e., cribs/sleeping, car seat installation, choking hazards, vaccinations, etc.).
- Provide necessary nutrients (i.e., breast milk if possible, otherwise healthy formula).
- Engage your baby in a variety of stimulating activities, including frequent reading to him/her.
- Talk to your baby often.
- Cuddle, hold and give your baby tons of affection.
Toddlers (1-2 Years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as drowning dangers, poisons, fire hazards, sharp objects, etc.
- Read to your toddler every day.
- Encourage exploration and trying new things.
- Respond positively to desirable behaviors.
- Engage in fun and interesting outings together.
Toddlers (2-3 Years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as choking hazards, drowning dangers, car safety, etc.
- Teach your toddler simple songs and rhymes.
- Encourage pretend play.
- Read books together.
- Reward positive behavior rather than attending to undesirable ones.
Preschoolers (3-5 years)
- Ensure outside safety (i.e., traffic, playground equipment, strangers, drowning dangers, bicycle use, etc.)
- Allow your child to help with easy chores.
- Use clear and consistent discipline.
- Read to your child & let him/her choose books with you.
- Provide your child with opportunities to make choices.
Middle Childhood (6-8 years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as traffic and drowning dangers, teaching your child how to ask for help, supervising your child’s physical activities, etc.
- Communicate about school and other important things in your child’s life.
- Engage in family activities.
- Encourage extracurricular activities and hobbies.
- Make consistent rules about screen use.
Middle Childhood (9-11 years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as riding in the car; recreational activities such as bikes, skateboards, skates, etc.; and rules about being home alone after school, etc.
- Make sure your child is getting proper sleep.
- Teach your child about responsibilities, such as saving money.
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
- Talk to your child about puberty, pressures, and risky behaviors.
Young Teens (12-14 years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as peer pressure, seat belts, risky behaviors, healthy choices, etc.
- Respect your teen’s feelings, opinions, and interests.
- Know where your teen is and ensure adult supervision.
- Openly discuss potentially risky behaviors such as sex, drinking, and drugs.
- Set clear goals and expectations.
Teenagers (15-17 years)
- Ensure safety in areas such as driving; sexual behavior and other risky activities; curfews and expectations; suicidal ideation; positive friendships; etc.
- Openly discuss sensitive topics such as risk behaviors and depression.
- Encourage your teen to make goals and plan ahead.
- Show affection and spend time together.
- Help your teen to make healthy decisions regarding technology and social media use.
- Respect your teen’s opinions and need for privacy.
- Encourage healthy self-care in the areas of sleep, exercise, food, etc.
The CDC’s (2014) tips provide a wealth of information for parents. It is evident that some of the same general positive parenting themes show-up at every developmental stage. Therefore, whether you are the parent of a newborn, an eight-year-old or a teenager about to go to college; your child needs you to ensure his/her safety; provide warmth and affection; communicate openly; engage in plenty of quality and stimulating time together; provide praise and encouragement; and respect his/her individuality.
32+ Tips for Temper Tantrums and Better Behavior
The grocery store situation mentioned in the preceding post is but one example of a temper tantrum scenario. While children have the majority of tantrums at an early age (i.e., 1-3 years), they often continue to tantrum for several more years— in some case, even beyond age 6. Durant (2016) describes tantrums as storms that cannot be controlled, but instead need to be waited-out.
The child is expressing extreme frustration and needs help in learning how to identify and cope with his/her emotions. Durant also cautions about worrying too much about what others think since this often results in quick fixes (including punishment), that will not work in the long-run. See our article for healthier positive punishment examples.
Instead, the parent should talk to the child about the problem, while explaining why the child cannot get his/her way (i.e., “You cannot watch any more tv because the rule is one hour and more than that is not healthy”). This should be done with warmth and empathy (i.e., “I know you like that show and I understand that you are disappointed”).
Along with communicating in an understanding way, the parent should allow the child to calm down in another room. When the child is calmer, the parent might also try to distract him/her from the source of the problem (i.e., “Hey, Fluffy is staring at us over there, should we take him for a walk?” or “Dinner smells so good, should we go check on it?”) (Durant, 2016).
This cooling-off period is important for both the child and the parent, who also needs to calm down and take a few breaths in order to avoid losing his/her temper. Working on a solution and giving the child a hug are also good ways to reduce the child’s frustration while letting him/her know how much you truly care (Nelsen, 2006).
The ‘Love and Logic’ parenting approach (Cline & Fay, 2006) provides some especially helpful language for dealing with tantrums, as well as many other issues. While ‘Love and Logic’ books are sometimes published by faith-based companies, this approach neither requires nor promotes any particular religion. It is applicable to all types of families. ‘Love and Logic’ does not involve arguing, raising one’s voice or excusing behaviors.
All too often, parents get upset and yell, which only escalates the situation. Fay provides a useful hand-out for parents that describes the ‘Love and Logic’ approach (Fay, hopelbc.com) in which he notes how to deal with arguments. Fay recommends that parents “just go brain dead” during conflicts. What he means is, they should not argue, but remain calm, show empathy, and express their love for their child. He suggests that parents tell their children “I love you too much to argue.”
This does not mean giving-in; as ‘Love and Logic’ parenting is not permissive. The parent still needs to make the child accountable for his/her behavior by understanding the consequences. But when the message is communicated in a loving way, the child is less likely to regard his/her parent as the enemy.
Fay describes this approach as a way to “lock in our empathy, love, and understanding” (Fay, hopelbc.com). Over time, the child will develop an internal voice in which he/she questions the negative outcomes of subsequent decisions. By internalizing this message, the child will be in a better position to make healthy choices in the future (Fay, 2019).
Along with this approach, 32 tips for dealing with temper tantrums and encouraging good behavior are as follows:
- Always follow-through with your words
- Be a role model of calm behavior when you are frustrated
- Be calm – don’t yell or act angry
- Be consistent
- Be prepared for future tantrum triggers
- Be warm and loving regardless of how you feel
- Briefly explain why the child isn’t getting his/her way
- Do NOT reward the tantrum
- Do something to calm yourself down
- Don’t argue (maybe say “I love you too much to argue”)
- Don’t let the issue escalate
- Don’t try to control the tantrum; wait-it-out
- Don’t worry about what others think – (i.e., glares don’t matter)
- Don’t take the behavior personally
- Empathize with the child’s feelings
- Give him/her a hug when calmed-down
- Give the child choices
- Have a cooling-off period
- Keep your language warm and simple
- Leave the scene (do NOT give the child an audience)
- Make clear rules for expectations and consequences
- Make the child accountable for his/her actions
- Remember that all kids have tantrums
- Share your own ways of coping with similar situations
- Talk to the child about his/her feelings
- Talk to the child about solutions to the problem
- Tell your child you love him/her no matter what
- Think of your long-term parenting goals
- Try to distract the child
- Understand your child’s developmental period
- Use a soft voice
- Use plenty of positive reinforcement with kids for good behavior
40 Positive Parenting Techniques to Use at Bedtime
Is there any doubt that getting kids to go to bed is at the top of the list when it comes to parenting challenges?
Among pediatric sleeping disorder specialists, children who won’t go to bed has been reported as the most frequent reason for parents seeking help (Ferber, 2006). Such parents are typically at a loss in terms of what to do; which is exacerbated by their own exhaustion.
Indeed, seeing parents who are frustrated by this issue to the point of tears, is not an unusual sight for pediatricians. It is estimated that 20-30% of babies and children have sleeping issues (Bruni, Violani & Luchetti et al., 2004).
Children’s consistent sleeping disturbances have many deleterious consequences including difficult parent-child relationships, anxiety, and distress among children and parents, marital problems, familial stress, and issues in terms of children’s cognitive and behavioral functioning (Bruni et al., 2004).
Parents may also doubt their own parenting competency and feel guilty for not being able to fix it. Yelling only makes it worse for parents and children alike. Of course, some parents might simply give-up the fight due to their own need for sleep by letting the child sleep in their bed— which only creates more problems and is typically at odds with long-term parenting goals.
Allowing a routine in which the child sleeps with the parents fails to teach the child how to self-sooth and fall asleep on his/her own. Not to mention the potential lack of sleep and marital issues that may result from the “family bed” situation. Fortunately, parents dealing with their child’s ongoing sleeping problems neither need to give-in nor go crazy; there are solutions.
First of all, it is important to establish a consistent routine in which the child goes to bed feeling relaxed and secure. If the child gets up, the parent should calmly walk him/her back to bed, warmly say “goodnight,” and leave the room. That’s all. Even if this happens numerous times, the child will eventually learn that getting-up isn’t rewarding at all if he/she has to get right back in bed without any extra attention. But, like all aspects of positive parenting, the parent must be consistent.
If the parent walks the child back sometimes, yells other times, and goes back in the room and reads a story on yet other occasions; the child will absolutely keep getting-up since there’s a good chance he/she will get the desired outcome at some point.
There are many more techniques for avoiding bedtime conflict and encouraging healthy sleep habits.
Here are 40 examples:
- Explain why sleep is important.
- Understand the child’s developmental stage.
- Give the child a warm bath before bed.
- Use lavender lotions or bubble bath.
- Give the child warm milk or chamomile tea with honey before bed.
- Make sure the child knows his/her bedtime and when it’s approaching, maybe use a timer.
- Read the child a book or tell him/her a story for the same amount of time each night (don’t go overboard on some nights).
- Make the bedtime ritual fun and loving, so the child looks forward to it.
- Don’t get angry if the child doesn’t go to sleep or stay in bed; remain warm and loving.
- Calmly walk the child back to bed if he/she gets up, say “goodnight,” and leave the room as many times as necessary.
- Be consistent and do not give in to the temptation to let the child sleep in your bed— no matter how tired you may be.
- Show empathy for the child’s feelings.
- Don’t disregard the child’s fears, but provide solutions (i.e., “monster spray” for anxiety).
- Read a relaxing child meditation book or play a CD (i.e., Bedtime Meditation for Kids, Joseph, 2019; (Amazon) & Nighty Night Forest: Lovely Bedtime Story App for Kids & Toddlers, Fox & Sheep, 2018 (Youtube))
- Play soft music or relaxing nature sounds, or sing a lullaby.
- Show affection, maybe scratch the child’s back.
- Leave on a dim nightlight (but avoid too much light, as it interferes with melatonin production).
- Leave the door open if appropriate.
- Make sure the child’s pajamas and bed are comfortable.
- Provide a comforting stuffed animal or blanket.
- Create a bedroom that is peaceful, tidy and quiet without distractions.
- Use a humidifier both for moisture, as well as white noise.
- Put a fish tank in the room that creates a soothing sound.
- Put glow in the dark stars on the ceiling.
- Buy a glowing star projector that isn’t too bright.
- Sit with the child until sleepy, but not until asleep—as the child needs to learn to self-sooth in order to fall asleep on his/her own.
- Ensure that the child has no underlying medical problems that relate to sleep (i.e., narcolepsy, sleep apnea, medication side-effects, etc.).
- Consistently maintain the child’s eating and sleeping routines.
- Teach the child ways to think non-stressful, relaxing thoughts when trying to fall asleep (i.e., ask him/her to make a list of something neutral, such as names of fruits and vegetables).
- Teach the child relaxation techniques (i.e., progressive relaxation).
- Make sure others in the home are quiet and respectful of the bedtime routine.
- Ensure the child has a healthy diet and avoids eating food near bedtime that may irritate his/her stomach (i.e., gassy foods or lactose— if the child is sensitive to it).
- Ensure that the child isn’t eating anything stimulating in the evening (i.e., chocolate).
- Ensure that the child is getting plenty of exercise during the day.
- Don’t allow the child to look at screens (i.e., tv, computer, tablet, cell phones, or other handheld videogames) within one hour before bedtime.
- Ensure that the child is not exposed to things he/she finds scary or overstimulating during the hours before bedtime.
- Don’t give the child too many fluids and make sure he/she goes to the bathroom before bed.
- Avoid discussing emotional topics before bedtime.
- Be a good role model (i.e., get plenty of sleep yourself; and don’t let your child know if you have insomnia)
- Reinforce good bedtime/sleeping behaviors with praise and privileges (i.e., if the child sleeps well all week, perhaps read him/her one extra book, go to a special place on the weekend, or allow him/her to stay-up an extra 30 minutes at the end of the week).
35 Activities, Workbooks, and Tools for Parents
Parents have all sorts of options for fun and meaningful activities to share with their kids. Here are some ideas:
- Cook or Bake Together
- Play Games
- Build Things Together (i.e., with Clay, Legos or Playmobile)
- Go to a Pottery Painting Studio
- Engage in Outdoor Activities, such as Swimming, Hiking, Various Sports, Beach Time, Picnics, Dog Parks, Wading Pools, etc.
- Engage in Indoor Recreation, such as Climbing Gyms, Basketball, Tennis, Community Centers, Gymnastics, Yoga, Bowling, Go Carts, etc.
- Work Together to Build Difficult Puzzles
- Go to a Drive-in Movie
- Go to Garage Sales
- Build and/or Paint a Birdhouse
- Set-up a Tour of your Local Fire Station
- Learn a New Hobby or Skill together
- Go to the Library
- Visit a Children’s Museum or Aquarium
- Help your Child Set-up and Run a Lemonade Stand
- Attend Local Festivals, Outdoor Markets, Holiday Bazaars or other Seasonal Events
- Establish Regular Screen-Free Family Time
- Engage in Musical Activities such as Concerts
- Take Care of or Visit Animals Together
- Do Arts and Crafts (i.e., Holiday Decorations, Jewelry Making, etc.)
- Go on an Adventure Exploring your Community like Tourists
- For more, please visit: Positive Parenting Books, Training and Resources
There are also many excellent positive parenting workbooks and other online tools available for parents, such as the following:
- The Rational Positive Parenting Program (David & DiGiuseppe, 2016) (Amazon)
- The Positive Parenting Workbook: An Interactive Guide for Strengthening Emotional Connection (Eanes, 2018) (Amazon)
- Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook: Using Mindfulness and Connection to Raise Resilient, Joyful Children and Rediscover Your Love of Parenting (Markham, 2018) (Amazon)
- Parenting Toolbox: 125 Activities Therapists Use to Reduce Meltdowns, Increase Positive Behaviors & Manage Emotions (Phifer, Sibbald, & Roden, 2018) (Amazon)
- No-Drama Discipline Workbook: Exercises, Activities, and Practical Strategies to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Developing Minds (Siegel & Payne Bryson, 2016) (Amazon)
- No More Stinking Thinking: A workbook for teaching children positive thinking (Altiero, 2006) (Amazon)
- Helping Parents with Challenging Children Positive Family Intervention Parent Workbook (Programs That Work) (Durand & Hieneman, 2008) (Amazon)
- Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger Workbook Edition (Halloran, 2016) (Amazon)
- Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens: A Workbook to Break the Nine Thought Habits That Are Holding You Back (Karapetian & McGrath, 2017) (Amazon)
- 1-2-3 Magic Workbook: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (Phelan & Webb, 2018) (Amazon)
A Take Home Message
I hope this piece provided you with some new techniques and skills you can use.
If you find any of this information helpful, please let us know in the comments section!
Thanks for reading, and I wish you nothing but the best with parenthood!
You may also be interested in: Positive Reinforcement in Psychology (Definition + 5 Examples)
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