Thursday, November 12, 2009

Positive Parenting

 Do you want to parent while smiling more, without raising your voice, and without having to harp on your kids so much? Do you want to help your children to learn for themselves how to make good choices and feel good about it?
My friend recently lent me a book called The Power of Positive Parenting by Dr. Glenn I. Latham. It totally changed my perspective on parenting. I am aware that one of our readers, Diane, has mentioned an article on positive parenting. I am sorry to say that I could not track that link down. Diane, if you would please link us again a comment?

The principles addressed in this book basically teach that parenting is at its most effective when it is focusing on the positive instead of the negative things our kids do. He instructs parents to ignore typical "junk" kid behavior so that we are not reinforcing it. Then, be sure to SELECTIVELY and sincerely praise positive behavior that you would like to see repeated. Be careful not to praise everything as that will back fire. Just like the gambling principle, inconsistent rewards have more impact. There is a time and place for addressing negative behavior like when it hurts someone or something. When that happens he tells us to calmly tell the child that this behavior really isn't like them and to, for example, go lay on the bed and take some deep breaths for a minute (without any hint of irriation in your voice just concern and love). Then when they have calmed down to go and talk with them about it and have a teaching moment. A consequence may also be introduced at this time. He also spouts some ideals similar to Love and Logic like letting the consequences of choices to be natural and not to step in and rescue them from the natural consequences.

Overall I really enjoyed the book (the writing is pretty witty and fun to read even though it is technically written as a text book). I tried out some of the principles and found that adjusting to this new way of parenting was as difficult for my son as it was for me. Dr. Latham warns you that things might get worse before they get better and that was certainly true for us....but once we got the hang of things I really feel like our interactions have improved greatly and I feel like a more skilled parent. It has done more than given me tools it has changed the lenses through which I view my kids and all childrenreally. They really just want our love and approval. They usually don't want to get into trouble, they either just need to be taught in a way they understand and are acting out because they don't know better, or they are just trying to get our attention.

I feel that this book is more about how to change you as a parent - for the better of course- than how to make your children better, which is all you can really control anyway - yourself. I am no where near perfect at being a more positive parent but I am getting there. I don't like all the aspects of this book, like his potty training and time out method, but I love how honest, and real it is. He uses real examples with are more relatable. Often when I read a parenting book I feel horrible about how many things I am doing wrong, but he reminds us that if we are making mistakes we just need to learn and/or sharpen our parenting skills, rather than guilt tripping or reprimanding. He is quite positive to us an author which wasn't surprising to me and it worked. It enticed me to WANT to do better and to feel empowered to do so.

So let me know your thoughts on this book, if you have read it.

Or if you have not read this book, please give your two cents on what principles I have talked about here? Do you think it works for all children?

Have you tried similar methods? How have they worked?

Where do you draw the the line on when to intervene and when to ignore?

Thanks for your input!

photograph taken by Helga Laing


Jes said...

I havent read it but have heard a lot about t from people I know and would like to. Maybe I will go pick it up this week...then come back and tell you my thoughts :)

Heather said...

I haven't read this book straight through, but I've used it as a reference book. In reading chapters as needed, I've probably read 2/3 of the book. I especially appreciated the section on tantrums when my daughter was at that "fun" 18 month to 2 1/2 year age. One thing I really liked about the author is how he doesn't come across condescending or that his way is the only way to parent successfully.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared and Delia said...

I am sorry if I scared everyone away from sharing thoughts on this topic...I really would like to know your take on it and what you think.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Delia - you didn't make anyone uncomfortable with this topic, it's just a big book and I'm not sure how many people have read it.

I own the book and have read some chapters of it, but not all. Just as Heather mentioned.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I personally prefer the Love and Logic method and as Delia said many of the concepts are similar.

A few things I don't like are some of the examples that the author gives. I feel that in some of the examples they are unrealistic and the parent is actually being too hard nosed. I am a pretty strict disciplinarian, but some of those examples seemd like there was no opportunity for the child to have a say. I also didn't like how much the author encouraged "ignoring" certain behaviors to the extent that I felt like some communication was shut down.

What I do love about the book is obviously the positive side. I enjoyed the insight into what I'm actually paying attention to and fueling instead of just ignoring. At the same time though I have to ask myself.... if my son is pulling all the DVDs off my shelf repeatedly and he knows he is not supposed to, do I just ignore that???? So I get confused.

I also have a really hard time ignoring those "junk" behaviors. But that is my own issue.

I love how much the focus is on the love and that is also made clear to the parent that letting your child do "anything" is not love, but is actually lack of responsibility. Our children will thank us later if we teach them how to behave.

I like this book a lot.... but like all parenting books it doesn't fit my style perfectly.

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh yes, and I totally agree with Heather about the way the author writes - he is not degrading to the parent at all. In some books I read it seems like the author thinks that all parents are idiots unless they are reading his or her book.

Chris and Laura said...

I haven't read the book, but maybe I should. I know that I could be doing better as far as staying positive with my toddler. There just seem to be several times when I don't have the patience to redirect another misbehavior and I jump right to a less-than-positive discipline.

I found Diane's comment from back in April when she mentioned a paper on Positive Parenting. I have read a similar (or possibly the same) paper and I think it has some points that are worth repeating.

1. A misbehaving child is sad, not bad. I sometimes get it in my head that Jane is doing something purely to annoy me. The more positive approach would be to realize that she probably isn't getting the positive attention she needs and is acting out because she knows I'll react. If I make it a point to give her regular attention, she'll act out less.

2. Children spell love T-I-M-E. I get really bored, but Jane is happy as a clam if I just sit on the floor with her and let her show me all her toys. The one-on-one time helps her know that I care.

3. Take time to train them. I have ideas in my head sometimes of how I expect Jane to act. When she doesn't act just that way, I respond badly. Often, though, she never had any reason to know what I was expecting. I need to teach her (usually multiple times) about how she needs to act before I can really expect her to do it.

Those are just a couple of things to keep in mind when trying to have a happy relationship with your kids. Let's just hope I can follow my own advice.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Delia said...

Thank you for finding those points. I tried to find that article Diance referenced but could not. I really like what you had to say Tannie. Yes...some of his examples are really ... I guess passionate, but most of them are realistic in that I have either thought or felt that way before knowing I was wrong but not knowing how to fix that. I hope that makes sense.

We are in our third week of implementing more positive parenting techniques and I have to say overall that my son works harder to choose the right than he ever has before. I don't do EVERYTHING he says but I do it at my comfort level. I feel better as a parent and I see good feelings in my older son. Tonight he played with his younger brother without any fighting and helped me in the kitchen. He ASKED if he could help set the table, ate all his dinner, and rushed right upstairs when it was bath time instead of dragging and whining. I made sure to sincerely praise a little here and there... in the back of my mind fully expecting that it was just too good to be true. I didn't have to discipline him once so I expected him to maybe back slide a bit as the night wore on, but he didn't. Every night doesn't look like that for us, but it feels good not having to put him in time out five or so times a day as I did before.