I want you to take a moment to imagine home without tantrums, or screaming, without complaining, or fighting. What are the sounds you might notice? What are the feelings you might have?
It might feel that the above is IMPOSSIBLE. And it might be, if you use what I call ‘natural parenting.’
Natural parenting is exactly that- it is what comes natural as a parent. It is based off of either how we were raised, or some vision we created on how we wanted to parent. And it works great! But not for your kid. That is why you are here. What you thought would work and what you wanted to work are different than what you are finding works. Or maybe you have yet to find something that does work.
What do I mean?
Natural parenting is fantastic parenting for many kids, but it is typically not the right type of parenting for kids who have ADHD, Aspergers, anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder, or are strong-willed. So, another way of looking at it is natural parenting only works for a small percentage of children.
To me, that is frightening. All of the books, the wisdom, the knowledge, the recommendations do not align with your needs. So you are a fish out of water, and have already tried so much.
So, what do I do?
Positive parenting is a pseudo child-led approach and because of this, it works. It uses reward-based incentives, motivations, rewards and reminders that are specific, consistent, and easy for follow through. In fact, positive parenting will feel so much more natural, once you give it a try.
To break it down:
Each morning your child will wake up with ‘nothing.’ No immediate access to television, video games, ipad, (or as I call it- anything with a plug or a battery).
Each morning they start with nothing and they EARN the access to those items.
This parenting technique is designed for children OVER 5 years old.
Children ages 5-8 have time blocks no more than 4 hours.
Children ages 9-12 have time blocks no more than 6 hours.
Teens ages 12-17 have time blocks no more than 8 hours.
Then it resets. I will explain why later.
In each time block, they must accomplish specific tasks chosen by the parent for that day to be completed before they gain access to their ‘favorites.’
Side note: This may be TV, video games, LEGO’s, barbies… whatever is your child’s item that you frequently find yourself threatening to take way.
So, for example: Your 9-year-old must complete their morning chores (to parent standards), go outside for 1 hour (or complete indoor energy releasing activity if it is rainy/cold), contact one friend to play (and play if they are available), read or do arts/crafts for 30 minutes, and complete 30 minutes of free play. After ALL of these have been completed, how much time is left? Let’s say the chores take 30 minutes… that means they have used up approximately 2 ½ hours of their 6 hour block-and that is if their friend is not available to play! So you get, chores completed, physical activity, brain stimulation, imaginative stimulation and NOW they can choose to play video games etc. Yes, they still will have a lot of hours to play, but it is after they have completed family requirements. Then you repeat the cycle until the day is over.
Why does that help?
Parents get frustrated that their child only wants to play video games, and won’t stop to do chores.
Consider this: When is the last time you excitedly stopped a fun task, to complete a necessary but boring one? Their response is normal! But, what happens next. Natural parenting comes in. We start bargaining, begging, pleading, and threatening! When is the last time you threatened to take their iPad away if they did not listen?
Positive parenting removes that exchange. It encourages children to complete boring tasks first so they can be rewarded by fun ones! Isn’t that more logical?
With positive parenting, we do not focus on consequences or punishments. For many children and teens these threats no longer work.
Positive parenting is the thought that children must earn access to items that their peers may feel entitled to. In a sense, positive parenting enables the parent as it allows the power to remain with the parent. So- each morning a child has gained access to no ‘wants/extras’ (such as technology). They earn access to those ‘wants/extras’ as they complete chores, exhibit good behavior, receive appropriate grades at school etc. The child/teen learns that in order to gain access to what they want, they must follow the parent expectations. Thus, the ‘wants/extras’ are viewed as a reward for follow through. This naturally prepares a child for the workforce in that society is already based off of a reward theory. If you work hard, you may have additional opportunities.
What would be different for you with this change? It will not happen over night, but give me a call if you are interested in dramatically changing your home life..to one without tantrums, pleading and threats.
Why the time blocks?
Time blocks focus on ‘resetting’ in case they had a difficult time, so that they have the ability to restart towards their goals. Time blocks also allow for flexibility- for those chores you forgot, the unexpected plans, and to break up the video game time into multiple segments. Time blocks are also developmentally (age appropriate) based to achieve the most success.
But what if they refuse at night time?
This can take some practice and some patience. Do not threaten to take anything away the next day. If your child is fighting and resisting transitioning to bed, that is more about a need to communicate something. This might be difficulty with transitions in general, or it might be something else. I recommend you giving me a call so we can problem solve what is causing that resistance. It is always something- behavior is communication. So what does it mean?
The psychology of positive parenting
Positive parenting can increase self-esteem and develop positive self-image as your child is able to feel accomplished on a daily basis for what they have achieved. Their only set backs are due to their own lack of follow through. This is why I referenced it as pseudo child led. They are in control of whether or not they earn their reward. Be mindful that your expectations are achievable and realistic, as that will undermine your efforts for change and progress.
I don’t think this will work for me
That is okay! Positive parenting is not right for every family, but it is a great thing to explore. You might be surprised how the natural consequences of not completing expectations truly help many kids learn and grow. I recommend giving it a try and remember you can always schedule an appointment to tweak the process for your family.