• Positive parenting is a loving and gentle approach to parenting that helps to foster healthy relationships between parent and child.
  • There are a handful of skills that parents can practice to accomplish positive parenting, of which includes validation, balance, listening, and support.
  • Validation involves accepting your child’s feelings as they are, rather than telling them they shouldn’t feel the way that they do.
  • It’s also important parents find a healthy balance between strict and lenient, so as to raise them with rules but also allow them to learn from mistakes.
  • Lastly, parents should practice the basic skill of listening and offer support to their child as well as seek out support for themselves as needed.

Positive parenting might sound intimidating, but it isn’t all that complicated. It’s built on the notion that loving guidance is the best model for raising happy, healthy kids and maintaining positive relationships with them. Laura Braziel, LPC and LMFT, is here to explain four skills that will help you live by the positive parenting lifestyle and approach your children with love and kindness:

1) Validation

One of the most developmentally supportive parenting skills a parent can offer to their child or teen is validation. In simple words, validation means to acknowledge without judgment the feelings of another as legitimate and real for them. This looks like giving nurturing attention to and not trivializing or punishing your child/teen when they express what in your view may look like extreme reactions. Validation looks like accepting your child or teen’s feelings as real for them rather than telling them they shouldn’t feel as they do. When children and teens are validated, they gain so many developmental skills lending towards self-confidence. They learn how to correctly label and communicate how they feel. They learn how to tolerate intense emotions and self-soothe. They learn to problem-solve rather than stuff their feelings. And they learn to trust themselves rather than look to others to tell them how to feel and be.

These skills are learned over time, however, and often present as unruly and extreme at
first. It is important to keep in mind, however, that validation does not mean that parents give in to every emotional outburst. Sometimes, validation simply requires a verbal and non-verbal considerate response along with limits and boundaries. If your child or teen is throwing a tantrum over not getting their way, validation would be genuinely responding something like this:

“I can tell this upsets you a lot and you are allowed to feel upset by this, AND at the same time, I have to set limits and today the answer has to be no. If you would like, you can take some time in your room to feel frustrated and angry with me, then when you are calm and ready, let’s talk about this more.”

Notice the use of the word AND rather than the word BUT. Sometimes choice of words can make the difference between validating and invalidating.

2) Balance

Another great parenting skill is to be flexibly balanced as you set rules and expectations. Children and teens need boundaries and limits for their safety and growth, but they also need grace in those instances where they make mistakes and consequences naturally result. Teens especially need room to experiment with autonomy and independence while trusting that their parents have their back should something go wrong. This particular balance is tough for many parents and may require support from other parents and even a counselor at times. The key thing is to not crush the spirit of your child or teen, but also raise them with respect for rules.

3) Listening

Listening is such a basic skill, but worth mentioning when it comes to parenting. Oftentimes, parents get frustrated and worn down by their children/teens that they forget to use this skill. Children and teens are humans too, and we all need to feel heard. Listen to the feedback they give you. Teens especially can give very valuable feedback to their parents, although it may not be expressed respectfully. If a teen tells you that you don’t listen to them, step back and assess yourself. Maybe you have jumped to your own conclusions without truly considering all the information your teen may have. Maybe your teen’s behavior was impulsive due to the tough circumstance they got caught up in. Maybe they felt they had no other options available in the moment.

When you hear them out, it opens the opportunity to help them problem-solve for the future. It also opens the opportunity to improve your relationship with them. In my work with teens and parents, many of the issues between them boil down to lack of listening and understanding on the part of the parent. Likewise, children and teens have to learn to listen too, but parents must remember that they are the model for how relationships work in the home.

4) Support

A great skill for parents is to take it upon themselves to seek out their own support. Parenting is probably the most difficult job there is and you don’t even get appreciated or paid for it. So, it would be natural to feel discouraged and frustrated at times and even more natural to take that frustration out on your child or teen. With support, you as the parent can address your own emotions and reactions without allowing them to be projected upon your child or teen. You can then approach your parenting with more clarity and grace. So, seek out other parents who have already gotten through this difficult stage. Learn from their wisdom. Seek out counseling as well. Taking care of yourself is such an important skill that not only helps you and your relationship with your child or teen, but also sets a great example for your child or teen that seeking help and support in life is a strength. In fact, they might open themselves to the idea of child therapy, which can help them with a range of challenges in teenhood. To schedule a session for your or your child (or both), find a location near you! Or, if you’d prefer virtual sessions, check out our online counseling opportunities.