10 Principles of Positive Parenting

Principle #1

Commit yourself to regular, focused attention toward your children. All children need regular, focused attention from their parents. When there are two parents involved in a child’s life, it is essential that both parents are "emotionally available" for the child. The timeworn notion that children need nurturing primarily from their mothers is no longer valid; they need ample emotional attention from their fathers, too. But whether there is one caregiver or two, it is important that we as parents develop a daily routine of focused interaction with each of our children because individual "quality time" is what makes them feel special and valuable inside. Fulfilling our children’s attention needs is a key component of instilling high self-esteem, and helps cement the parent/child bond.

Principle #2

Practice consistent, compassionate understanding in discipline. At those difficult times when our children temporarily lose control or blatantly disobey us, it is preferable to discipline them with stern patience, rather than out of anger, frustration and haste. Contrary to popular belief, the use of "gentle discipline" will not cause them to become headstrong and unruly. In fact, disciplining our children with a compassionate, yet firm "hand" will increase their chances of becoming emotionally healthy, cooperative, loving adults – because they will be continuously experiencing constructive ways to deal with human conflict, without digressing into angry, aggressive behaviors.

Principle #3

Express enthusiasm and love often toward your children. Parental expressions of love and enthusiasm provide vital emotional nourishment for a child’s developing sense of self-esteem, and stimulate the growth of new neuronal connections in important areas of the brain. Since children base their self-concept, in large part, on how they perceive their parents’ feelings toward them, we must show them our love on a regular basis throughout their lives. Moreover, we should always be careful not to hurt their feelings when we become angry with them. In this way, our children will internalize our love for them, which is the primary factor in learning to value and love themselves. Praise and appreciation for all our children’s efforts, both those that succeed and those that fail, act as powerful positive reinforcement to teach character, self-motivation, and the joy of achievement.

Principle #4

Foster a sense of inclusion in your children. Healthy attachment in infancy and early childhood to their parents is the first way that children learn to feel like welcome and valuable members of the family group. This core sense of belonging is what enables children to move confidently into the world and reach out to others in a spirit of good will and camaraderie, which further engenders feelings of inclusion in the child within a social context. As they mature, our children need to embrace the idea that to live honorably means to "earn one’s keep" in this world and to care about others, as well. It is important that they experience the satisfaction of having other people depend upon them, which is taught in the home by having each child be responsible for important family duties. In this way, they will learn to be responsible for themselves, to their families, and if all goes well, to society as a whole. Teaching our children accountability bolsters their feelings of inclusion in the human community, and prepares them for a life of effectiveness, accomplishment, and fellowship.

Principle #5

Validate all of your children’s emotions, positive and negative. The study of the human psyche reveals that all of our emotions, even the so-called negative ones, play pivotal roles in our emotional health. Therefore, our children need to have all their emotions validated, when expressed in appropriate ways, to ensure their proper development. Denying our children the freedom to express the entire range of their emotional make-up may cause some of their emotions to become repressed, thereby inhibiting their normal maturation process. Conversely, validating all of our children’s emotions helps them mature into fully functional adults who possess the emotional skills to get their needs met, and who have empathy for the needs of others.

Principle #6

Provide reasonable structure for your children. Children whoProtein splicing motifs are raised in emotionally secure; compassionate, structured environments will have the best chance to develop feelings of self-confidence, personal safety, and a sense of belonging. Parents who set ever-expanding healthy limits for their maturing children provide them with solid, yet flexible physical and psychological boundaries. These become safe havens in which to grow and thrive. In an overly permissive family system, a child’s self-esteem may suffer do to a lack of feelings of security that well-defined boundaries bring. In an oppressively rigid family system, our children’s self-esteem may also suffer because they are not being given enough psychological room to learn how to count on their own abilities. A balanced environment of clearly defined and enforced limits that are fair, nonoppressive, and negotiable is what appears to have the best overall effect on our children’s self-esteem and emotional development.

Principle #7

Consciously model positive emotional health for your children. The most effective way for parents to teach their children emotionally healthy thoughts and behaviors is to model emotional health for them. We all know that the contradictory messages contained in the "Do as I say, not as I do" parenting style do not serve our children well. It is our behavior that our children pay closest attention to, from our relationship skills to our ability to handle the frustrations of daily life, and, is therefore our most powerful teacher. Consequently, it is vital that we work to become as emotionally balanced and complete as possible before we become parents, and continue to work toward our emotional wholeness after the fact. It is impossible for parents to give their children that which they do not possess, in this case, emotional health. In the case of those who already have children, it is not too late to begin modeling positive emotional health, however this must be genuine. It is never too late to begin changing.

Principle #8

Learn to and practice sharing power with your children. All emotionally healthy children will fight with their parents as they push to gain more personal freedom in their lives. This is a healthy expression of their natural drive toward independence in adulthood. Power-sharing is a teaching method that offers children structured choices as a way to guide them through the process of expanding their physical and emotional boundaries. If we, as parents, are willing to continuously negotiate new boundaries with our maturing children, while resisting the urge to always dominate them to gain their cooperation, or always give in to them because we tire of arguing, we will be creating emotionally balanced home environments in which they can learn how to balance their own needs with the needs of others.

Principle #9

Develop goal setting and self-motivational skills in your children. If we want our children to develop the emotional and thinking skills necessary to accomplish their goals, it is essential that they develop the psychological traits of goal setting and self-motivation. Studies have shown that maintaining high expectations for children is the most effective tool that parents can use to help them become the best that they can be. Of course, this does not mean impossible expectations, or punishing and scolding children when they do not perform well. This usually destroys their optimism and desire to achieve. Rather, through the use of encouragement and praising, the feelings of self-confidence and inner satisfaction that our children gain from their personal accomplishments will help them realize most of their dreams in life.

Principle #10

Teach your children the principles of forgiveness of self and others. This means accepting the fact that all human beings are fallible, but the only ones who lead truly successful and rewarding lives, both personal and professional, are those people who have embarked on the journey toward emotional wholeness. Emotional wholeness is best achieved through practicing forgiveness toward self and others. This is neither excuse making for failure, nor is it denial of wrongdoing or errors. It is the acknowledgment that as humans we can and do fail. Adopt an attitude that past neither failures nor future fears will determine your present attitude and emotional health. By instilling this in your children you insure both this present generation’s health, but future generations as well.