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  • Research shows that there are a few keys to good parenting: encouragement, limit-setting, monitoring and supervision, problem-solving, and positive involvement.
  • Encouragement is all about showing your child positive attention, so as to encourage good behavior.
  • Limit-setting involves setting clear rules as well as clear guidelines for discipline if those rules are broken.
  • Monitoring and supervision simply means knowing what’s going on in your kid’s life; show interest in their interests, in who their friends are, etc., all without judgment.
  • Problem-solving is working together to reach an agreement.
  • And finally, positive involvement means spending fun, meaningful time together.

Research from Oregon Social Learning Center demonstrates five core parenting techniques: 1) encouragement, 2) limit-setting, 3) monitoring and supervision, 4) problem-solving and 5) positive involvement. In my clinical practice these really stand the test of important parenting techniques:

1) Encouragement

The use of verbal praise, affection, tokens, or earned privileges to support expectations. Encouragement should be administered in a 5:1 ration that is five opportunities to catch your child meeting your expectations or following your directions for each one time to critique or correct. Parents tend to observe more often and with more vigor times their kid is misbehaving, but don’t take into consideration to catch all the times they did the right thing, make the right choice. The folks at OSLC say ‘shine the light on what you want to grow.’ Your positive attention is like sun and water to your little garden of children—if you nitpick, you won’t get any beautiful flowers, only weeds or barren land.

2) Limit-setting

Limit-setting is setting a boundary and a clear understanding for how misbehavior will be addressed. The research says small consequences for small infractions is really more meaningful for behavior change. So give small time-outs or privilege loss when your kids don’t listen and they will come to count on this from you. I think parents can work harder to be ‘polite but firm.’ Too many worry too much about being nice and too many others yell and start off harsh or critical. If parents get in the habit of being consistently polite but firm, they will convey that they respect their child but also respect themselves.

3) Monitoring and supervision

Monitoring and supervision is knowing the who, what, where, when of your child’s life. While some kids may seem to be bothered by asking what they are doing or where they are going, most want their parents to understand their interests, friends, likes/dislikes. Create a habit of nonjudgmentally taking an interest in your child and you may be surprised how much you learn—and how many opportunities you have to praise them for clever problem solving or actually making a sound rational decision.

4) Problem-solving

This is nonjudgmental brainstorming of ideas and roughing out a mutually agreed upon plan. It’s a great way to strength communication skills and respectfully consider the ideas and contributions of all family members.

5) Positive involvement

This is just doing positive activities together: it could be small, medium, or large like connecting over a game or even larger like going on a vacation together. Simply, creating time to engage with joy and playfulness with your kids.

*Carrie Krawiec is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Birmingham Maple Clinic in Troy, MI.*

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