Ages and Stages: Positive Parenting

positive parenting

Positive parenting is a philosophy that includes practicing mutual respect, nonviolent communication and discipline, and loving guidance free from fear or shame. It helps children feel safe and builds confidence, problem-solving skills and the ability to bounce back from tough situations. Behavior challenges are seen as opportunities for growth and learning for both parents and children, which can take some of the stress out of discipline.

Here are some ideas on practicing positive parenting:

Ages 0–1: Being positively “present” for infants begins at birth. One way you can build bonds is by being responsive to a child’s physical and emotional needs. Showing affection, speaking, singing, praising and encouraging your child in the first year enhances a baby’s sense of trust and security. It also sets the stage for strong emotional and social development, as well as cooperative behavior later in life. Enable your child to explore and play safely by childproofing, supervising, and playing with him or her. Don’t swat or spank, which teaches a child to fear and is less effective in changing behavior than loving guidance. Instead, say “no” and remove your child from danger or doing something wrong, and gently guide him or her to doing something different.

Ages 1–3: Toddlers aren’t “terrible,” but a toddler may become overwhelmed by their emotions. At this age, children can show feelings by biting, hitting, whining and crying — and the tears, frustration and anger of an outburst can try most parents’ patience! Rather than punishing, positive parenting suggests “time in.” Explain to your child you are going to pick him or her up, and then sit quietly with your child on your lap or next to you. Allow your child to express feelings and release sadness or frustration. By sitting together, you are helping your child feel less overwhelmed and safer. This approach lets your child know you care about his or her feelings, and allows him to feel heard and understood. As your toddler develops, loving and positive guidance will help shorten and eliminate outbursts.

Ages 4–5: Your child’s ability to get along with others, follow rules and manage feelings grows throughout preschool. Help your child develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment by encouraging participation in family discussions or tasks like making dinner, setting behavior goals or rules, and discussing clear consequences for desired (and less desirable) behavior. Focus on goals you set together rather than “don’ts”: For example, make a goal to be quiet in the library with your child, instead of telling them not to talk loudly. Let your child know that making mistakes is a way to learn and grow, and discuss different ways of acting if they make a mistake. Offer praise for improvement and progress in their behavior.

Did you know?

Recent studies have found can harm a child’s development. According to the American Psychological Association, physical discipline is linked to more aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children.

Building Good Behavior — and Brain Power

Parents who are consistently warm, positive and responsive to a child’s needs tend to have children who are better at problem solving, language and social-emotional skills, according to a University of Texas study.

First 5 LA will be sharing more Positive Parenting tips and resources on Social Media throughout the month of July.

Please follow us on Twitter @First5LAParents and on Facebook at for more.

Share your Positive Parenting tips and stories on Twitter using #StrongFamilies and tag @First5LAParents for retweets.

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