Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Positive Parenting

My little toddler is out-of-control adorable. 

I know you feel the same way about your own kids. Sometimes you look at them, and you're just like "WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE!?!?!?!?!" Because they are! And it's so amazing. But then, sometimes in the midst of them being out-of-control adorable, you realize they're acting downright out-of-control, hold the adorable. You know what kind of stuff I mean.

Insisting on ripping clothes off in the middle of Mass. Pulling poop out of her diaper and bringing it to you like it's a present, only to discover it's not chocolate. or peanut butter. Throwing rice all over the carpet. Climbing into the shower with you every. single. time. Pulling every last wipe out of the box and scattering them everywhere. The list goes on. Feel free to add your own in the comment section!

In a world like this, it's easy to slip into an endless reel of "No." "Don't." "Stop." "No." "NO!!" "Do not." "Stop it." "Noooooo!!!" and the ever-famous, machine-gun "N-n-n-n-no-no-no-no!!" These words play on as an endless playlist to your life, and with each new crisis, you're doing you're very best to not end up sounding and looking like this. So what can a mama do?

Something that's been helping me a lot lately is to focus on using "positive" commands with Gemma rather than the negative ones. So rather than just saying "Stop. Stop. STOP. Do NOT do that!" when I find her pulling every article of clothing she owns out of her drawers, I say something like "Gemma, put those clothes back in the drawer." Instead of telling her what NOT to do, I tell her what TO do instead.
Before I give the command, I also simply say her name "Gemma" and wait for her to meet my eyes, that way I know I have her attention. I've been doing this as often as I can and I have to say, it works waaaay better than just yelling "No!" every time she does something psycho. I think we were both getting to a point of being numb to that word!

So that's my advice. When you find find your child in the midst of chaos, try to hold back the negative commands, and offer a positive command instead. Here are some more examples:

"Do NOT pour your water out of that cup!" vs. "DRINK the water from the cup."
"Stop throwing those blocks" vs. "Hey, can you build me a tower with those blocks?"
"No hitting/biting/scratching/pinching/etc!" vs. "Gemma, show me how to do a gentle touch."
"Don't climb on the table" vs. "Sit in your seat like a big girl."

Now, I'm in no way saying this is fool-proof and works every time. HA! Ha. Ha ha to the ha ha ha. Toddlers and children still have a mind and will of their own and sometimes are testing it out on purpose. Of course there are times when the "No"s and "Don't"s are fully necessary. However, I do think it's better to rely on the positive commands for common usage, and rely on the negative commands for more serious matters.

It also helps to just keep your kids constantly distracted by an endless flow of fun things to do ;)

What are some of the crazier antics you've had to stop your kids from doing? Have you tried this type of "positive commands" parenting, and how does it work for your child?


  1. I have no idea, since I have an infant - not a toddler. But I did just read this awesome book called "Bringing Up Bebe". It's on French parenting. I have an American friend who stayed in France for a while and swears, like the author, that she has never seen such well behaved toddlers in her life. It was a good read - but leans way more toward authoritative style parenting. It's an interesting read either way!

  2. PS - gotta say that this is stuff I did in my classroom that worked, especially the long and firm eye contact before giving a command. That pause makes a huge difference. And I like the whole positive command thing, it's like reverse psychology! Gives her some autonomy (well, so she thinks).

  3. Thanks Theresa! Yea you're definitely right about the eye contact thing. It makes a world of difference.


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