Positive parenting: respect and understanding

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Hello and thanks for checking in!

I was very glad to see that the topic of positive parenting got lots of attention from you. As I mentioned in my first post about it, Diving into positive parenting, I have started a learning journey about this approach to parenting, hoping that it will serve as a guide for D and I as we raise our daughter.

I have been reading a lot about positive parenting and two of its most basic principles seem especially powerful to me: Respect and Understanding. Here is how I would summarize them:

  • Respect your child – Your child is a person, capable of understanding and communicating with you. Don’t try to “trick” your child (however fun this is!) into doing things. Rather, try explaining why things are done, or not done, in a certain way.

For instance: I was eating a piece of chocolate the other day, and S wanted to have some. I tried to distract her and put the whole thing in my mouth, and then she wasn’t too happy about it —obviously. So the next time I wanted to have a piece of chocolate in front of my toddler, I didn’t act all weird about it. I just held it in my hand, ate it normally, and when S approached me to get some, I told her: “I’m having a chocolate. Do you want to see it?” She looked at it and touched it. I told her, “You can taste it but this one is just for mommy, ok? This has too much sugar for you.” I let her put a small corner of the chocolate in her mouth, just enough to satisfy her curiosity. Then I ate it in front of her, and she didn’t react at all. We just kept playing normally, without making a big deal of it.

  • The second concept is understanding your child: our brains are not developed in full until we reach our early twenties. Children do what they can with the tools they have. Sometimes that means that screaming is a tool to call your attention, not an evil ploy to destroy your nervous system. Always try to see a situation from your child’s perspective, and respect that they are experiencing real emotions, even if they seem silly to you.

This one is a work in progress: Sophie is terrified of my gloves. They are red and kind of furry, so I can understand why she’s a bit apprehensive about them. It is getting very cold in Ottawa and I need to wear my gloves. More importantly, S needs to wear her mitts. But she hates them, too. She looks at their purple fuzziness with contempt and screams if I get them anywhere near her.

So I could do one thing: ignore her apprehension towards my gloves, and impose the mitts on her even if she cries. Or, I can acknowledge that S has a point in being scared of gloves. And then I will explain to her every time I can that, you know, gloves and mitts are inanimate objects that might look like crazy hairy monsters but are totally friendly and keep your fingers warm.

This morning I put on my gloves and they talked to S in a nice, funny voice. I put them on and off several times so that she could see that I control the gloves. She wasn’t too impressed but she wasn’t entirely hating them. So I call that progress. She still didn’t let me put her mitts on.

So, respect and understanding. I know I will be coming back to these two concepts as my parenting challenges become greater than chocolate and mitts!

Meanwhile, I’m reading The Whole Brain Child, a good book about positive parenting. I’ll post a review on it soon!

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