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Limited time: The 5-step strategy to setting effective limits with your child
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Inside: Discover 5 powerful positive parenting tools that will make parenting easier and discipline more effective. They made a huge difference in my life and they can help you build a strong relationship with your kids!
“The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.” (Pam Leo)
I never really understood how true this phrase is until had to deal with all the challenges of raising a strong-willed child.
When my son was a toddler, a big transformation happened in our life! The sweet little baby that used to always have a smile on his face turned into a boy with a very strong personality. And he started to love saying “no”!
For a few months, “no” was his favorite word! Gaining his cooperation required a lot of negotiations and a good amount of patience (which isn’t my strongest skill).
During those hard (and apparently endless) months, I tried tons of tips and strategies. Some of them worked, some of them were a total failure. But even when a strategy worked at first, it was just a matter of time until it became inefficient.
All except one.
One day I discovered a great article about the importance of connection and how it can completely transform the relationship between parent and child. It explained why connection is important and why it plays such a huge role in the interactions we have with our kids.
It was that day when I decided to let go of every other strategy that I tried before and focus on connection. And it was the probably the biggest turning point in my relationship with my son!
Why connection works when other strategies seem to fail
The truth is that parenting is not always only about joy and peaceful moments! Sometimes parenting is about chaotic situations and negative behaviors. As parents, we need to learn to deal with those moments too!
The good news is that connection can help a lot in those difficult situations!
Here is why connection is so effective:
– Disconnection is the main reason why kids are acting out. So connection can help us prevent many negative behaviors.
– Even when we have the best intentions, difficult moments still happen. But if you observe the child’s behavior and we manage to identify the issues before they become serious, we can use connection prevent things from escalating.
– When the negative behavior is inevitable, and we reach a point where setting a firm limit is necessary, connection can help us discipline our children in a gentle way.
Connection is the core of positive discipline.
Children accept our guidance because of what we mean to them. Because they value the relationship they have with us. Without that strong relationship, parenting is just an endless series of power struggles and negative interactions.
The 5 positive parenting tools that make parenting easier
There are many ways to use connection to make parenting easier and discipline more effective. But the best positive parenting tools that I ever discovered were the ones presented by Abigail Wald at the online Mom Conference last year.
Abigail Wald is a certified Hand in Hand Parenting consultant and the author of a blog and a podcast (both focused on parenting). I loved her approach and I wrote down the 5 tools she recommended.
Although I heard about those tools before and I was even already using some of them, I realized that they are the most effective when used together every single day.
These 5 positive parenting tools offer a complete toolkit for all the everyday parenting situations that we face. And they can make a huge difference for our sanity as parents and our relationship with the little ones.
I’ll share these 5 tools here exactly how Abigail described them in her presentation. For each one of them, I included helpful links where you can get more details on how to put them into practice
Positive parenting tools: Special time
Special time is a powerful tool that helps us reconnect with our kids. It’s basically a child-led play time that we set on a regular basis. It helps us prevent many negative behaviors and build a strong relationship with our children.
You can find more details about it here: Why it’s important to have special time with kids (+ 5 ideas to try).
Positive parenting tools: Play listening
Play listening is a method that helps us use play in the moments where the child is mildly off to connect with the child before things get worse.
Noticing when the negative behavior is about to start offers us the chance to prevent it instead of finding ways to deal with it after it already got out of control.
How to use this:
When you see that the child starts to do something wrong (like pushing another child), you can step in before things escalate.
Spend some time connecting with the child through play. (“I see that you are a little bit angry. I think that you are out of hugs! Let’s do something about that!” – Then give the child a big, long hug and just cuddle for a while.)
This method is not about rewarding negative behavior.
It’s about acknowledging that the child is dealing with strong emotions and needs to feel safe and loved. After you connect with the child, you can address the behavior and guide the child in finding better ways to express their feelings.
Positive parenting tools: Setting limits in a gentle way
Setting limits is another powerful parenting tool if used the right way.
It can help us connect with the kids instead of punishing them and making them feel bad. The secret to setting effective limits is being both consistent and empathetic.
The best way to do this is to use time-in instead of time-out or punishments.
How to use time-in:
When the child has a difficult moment, you can invite them to sit with you in a quiet place and give them the chance to express their feelings and find a way to sort things out. (“I see that you’re upset. You have every right to feel that way, but I can’t let you act that way. Do you want to come and sit next to me so we can talk about what is upsetting you?”)
At the end of a time-in, you and your child will feel connected, and your relationship will grow stronger.
Because this is the magic of positive parenting: it allows us to discipline our kids without hurting them or affecting the relationship that we build with them.
You can read more details about how to use positive discipline for setting limits here: How to set limits with young kids in an effective and gentle way in 3 simple steps.
Positive parenting tools: Stay listening
Stay listening is a wonderful way to support kids in the difficult moments.
It means that you take the time to listen to the child’s feelings and let them know that you accept their emotions.
As parents, it’s our job as parents to create a safe place for our children to express all their feelings. This will allow us to build a strong and trustful relationship with our kids.
Here is a wonderful article that explains how stay listening works and how to use it with your child: What to say during stay listening.
Positive parenting tools: Listening partnership
A listening partnership is a tool that is focused on the mom’s need to regulate her feelings.
We cannot help our kids manage their emotions if we are not capable of managing our own emotions. So it’s helpful if we can find a listening partner who can listen to our feelings without judging and offer us the support that we need for regaining our emotional balance.
You can find more details about how to start using this tool on the Hand and Hand Parenting site: What is a listening partnership and why do I need one?
How to implement these positive parenting tools with your child
First, take some time to read about these tools and see how they apply to you and your child. Then start slowly implementing them.
If you never used positive parenting tools with your child before it will take some time for both of you to adjust. So don’t get discouraged if things don’t work great at the beginning. In time you will see the benefits and these tools will make a huge difference in many situations!
It takes patience and effort to implement all these ideas. But it will pay off big time in the long run because the relationship you build with your child will impact both of your lives forever!
More from Playful Notes
- 7 simple and powerful things every boy needs to hear from his dad
- The best way to discipline kids in a positive manner and teach them how to do better
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photo credit: Yulia Grigoryeva / shutterstock.com