Authoritative, Gentle, and Positive Parenting - What I've learned
Listen to the our Podcast about the Simply On Purpose Conference Here:
What is Good Parenting
Dallin and I have been wondering this for a long time, and I think everyone wonders this about themselves, but with the words, “Am I a good parent?” There have been so many times, that I’ve turned to Dallin and said, “I wish there was a class for this….I wish instead of learning Spanish, I had taken three years of “How to be a good parent.” I’m going to talk a lot about George in this post…mostly because he was the one who started us out looking for more parenting answers. Our baby, James, is still a baby. All the strategies and how-to’s we’re learning right now, are us trying to catch up with George. Hopefully, by the time James is two and three, we’ll have things a little more figured out 😁
When I Became a New Mom
When I first had George, I felt as though a literal piece of heaven had entered my home and life. When I looked at him, I saw my sweet baby, but I also saw who he would become and imagined who he had been in heaven before coming here to me. (These are kind of my deep beliefs…that I’m not sure about, but they feel true to me, so stay with me here). I think that before George and I came to Earth to live….before we all came to Earth/before we were born…that we lived in heaven together. And in heaven, George was not my baby, he was probably my friend, a wonderful spirit or angel who I loved and potentially looked up too. We were equals. I imagine this moment where I find out that I will be his mother, and I imagine turning to him and promising to be an amazing mother who will cherish him and help him as much as I can to become who he is meant to become, to fulfill his greatest potential. This belief, or musing of mine has helped me so much as a parent. When George wouldn’t sleep for the first 18 months of his life, I was able to think about this promise and push through. This wasn’t just a hard baby I was taking care of, this was an eternal friend who needed me. Fast forward two years, and I’m at a loss. My sweet angel baby is still a sweet angel, but peppered with huge emotions. I started looking for strategies. I just wanted to have a game plan better than “ I freak out when he freaks out.” Enter my mom-crush Ralphie, or, as she’s known on Instagram, @simplyonpurpose.
How to Discipline a 2 year old
Now, I get that everyone is different and every kid is different. I just feel like I’ve found a parenting style and vibe that makes my heart feel happy. So, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned, what encourages me, and helps me through the behaviors.
Ralphie teaches all about authoritative parenting. Here’s the definition
Authoritative parenting is a parenting style characterized by high responsiveness and high demands. Authoritative parents are responsive to the child’s emotional needs while having high standards. They set limits and are very consistent in enforcing boundaries.
Positive and Gentle Parenting
Easier said than done. I recently attended one of Ralphie’s SIMPLY ON PURPOSE Workshops and I wanted to share some of my favorite takeaways. The rest of this post will be all of my favorite quotes and notes. If you have kids, go and follow her on instagram. Watching her stories every day has been such a blessing. She pumps me up, validates my struggles, and gives me real strategies that work! So here’s what I learned!
Give your children lots of reasons to behave well!
Give positive behaviors positive associations. Instead of looking out for misbehavior and stepping in when things start going downhill, step in and praise when your child is exhibiting good behavior. I think of all the times during playtime where I didn’t step in until George had hit another kid or thrown something or just done whatever. He is getting my attention only when he misbehaves. If I want to encourage kindness and sharing I need to step in when those things are happening and let him know how amazing he is.
“Behavior is a product of its environment. It’s not what is happening on the inside of the child, but what is happening on the outside of the child.” - Ralphie.
I love this. What is “wrong” with a child is not within them. If they exhibit misbehavior (like aggression and hitting) it is not that they are aggressive. They’re environment, for whatever reason, is causing them to act aggressive. (What is causing them stress or anxiety, what is making them feel unseen, what is bothering them, and how can I change that environment OR teach my child to cope better in it.) I cannot control my child, but I can, for the most part, control their environment.
Practice and teach the “Growth Mindset.”
I can’t do this —>This is hard but I can still do it —> I can do it (I need to practice having this type of mindset with my kids. If they are struggling with a behavior, it’s my job to help them go from can’t, to I can (but it’s still really hard) to “I CAN DO THIS.”
Behavior is shaped by consequences!
“People do what they do because of what happens to them when they do it” - Ralphie. When do you pay attention to your child? 95% of good behavior is ignored! Children will do anything for attention. Negative attention is more rewarding than no attention. The most powerful reinforcer is parental attention.
“Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior through negative processes.” Dr SW Bijou, International Encyclopedia of Education.
THE GOOD GETS BETTER WHEN YOU FOCUS ON THE GOOD - Ralphie
It takes a lot of time to teach a new behavior AND THAT’S OK!
Ralphie reiterated this by asking, “How many times has the dentist asked you to floss?” I really try to not expect my kids to do things that I can’t even do (Like sitting still or being quiet or not goofing around). But I realized at this conference that I am a little bit of a perfectionist with myself and my life. I like everything to be under control, for all the tasks to get completed, and for everything to run smoothly and for everything to be clean. I think/know that I am having perfectionist expectations with my toddler. We have worked with George on staying calm, safe touch (not hitting or pushing), and following directions. He does really good a lot of the time, but when he doesn’t that’s ok. I don’t need to be angry or frustrated that he’s not getting it. We just need to keep working. Discipline means TO TEACH, not to punish.
Brains are really good at giving you reasons not to do stuff. (This makes changing how we parent really hard).
There is power in being gentle, meek, and compassionate.
My biggest take away was to “IGNORE THE JUNK.” It’s a crazy idea, or at least it was to me at first. I thought I needed to “correct” every misbehavior, like that was my job. Ralphie categorizes behavior into two types…Inconsequential and Consequential.
Inconsequential behavior. This is the junk…all the annoying things, like whining, crying, being messy, grouchy, talking back, being rude, not eating at meal times. Most of these problems are inconsequential…just ignore them. Recognize them and find times to teach skills or practice correct behavior to correct these things (usually not in the moment…wait for “green-light” moments when your child is calm and happy). A lot of times the best way to stop it is to not give it attention and redirect.
Consequential behavior damages or destroys (hurst self, others, or property). This is behavior that warrants action/stepping in. (She talks so much more about this on her instagram and at the workshop.)
Parenting Is About the Parent
“If behavior must be attended to, attend to it calmly and with a plan.” -Dr. Glenn Latham
One more thing. Sometimes, I forget how little my kids really are. I’m with them so much, they’re so smart…I just think of them as older or more able to behave than they really are. Then, I’ll look at some pictures and SEE how little they still are and just feel like a dork for having such high expectations. They are babies. I’m almost thirty, and I’m still a tornado of emotions I don’t understand. So, if you feel like you’re failing, look at their pictures and remember they haven’t been here very long and they still have so much more time to learn
That’s all. Just my thoughts. Have a great day :)