Column: Parenting with positivitySeptember 16, 2021
By HALEY DROSTE
Youth First Inc.
Life is busy. Most parents feel stretched by stressors related to work demands, organizing family schedules, managing household functions like grocery shopping, planning meals, cleaning and laundry.
When we’re stressed as adults, those feelings have a way of spreading through the home, creating an atmosphere where attitudes and short tempers can seem to come out of nowhere.
Stress is part of life; at times it is even good for us. But how can we manage the stressors of parenthood and be the positive parent we always thought we would be?
Managing and coping with our feelings is so important because our children are looking to us for guidance on how to handle similar situations. Teaching a child to regulate their emotions begins with us.
So how can we model positive self-regulation? Become familiar with using an intentional pause when feeling overwhelmed so that you respond to situations with intention. Often times we are reacting versus responding.
Reactions usually come from a place of frustration and anger. Taking a moment to pause and reflect will foster an intentional response, one rooted in patience and understanding. Once we’ve regulated ourselves, we can then parent in a productive, meaningful and respectful way.
Below are some tips and ideas for implementing positive parenting strategies into your routine.
1. Utilize everyday moments to build connection. This can be accomplished in many ways, but one simple way is to own our mistakes when we make them. This illustrates to our children that even adults make mistakes and we all have growing and learning to do. Having these honest conversations with our children builds connection but also helps them learn to problem solve in the future.
2. Be loving but firm. So much of positive parenting is in our tone and the way in which we speak to our children. We can speak in a loving and respectful way while still being firm in our expectations. A calm, firm “no” is more effective than shouting “NO” in frustration. Set boundaries. Decide what rules are important to you, clearly communicate them to your child, and be consistent with enforcing those rules. Being a positive parent doesn’t mean letting your child walk all over you. It does mean trying to maintain a calm tone when your child needs reminders about the rules.
3. Change the lens through which you see your child’s behavior. All behavior is communication and under that communication is a need. Often the underlying need is a bid for connection. Take a moment to practice that intentional pause and think about why your child may be exhibiting certain behaviors. If we start seeing behavior problems as stress behavior versus misbehavior, we can help our children communicate their needs and feelings in a more productive way.
4. Give yourself grace. Step away and take a breath if you need to. Doing this will allow you to come back and respond in the way your child needs you to.
Positive parenting takes practice, awareness and patience. Don’t expect perfection. It starts with the simple step of making a commitment to show up every day with the intent to parent with understanding, empathy and respect.
Haley Droste, LCSW, is a Youth First social worker at Westside Catholic School in Vanderburgh County. Youth First Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families. Youth First provides 78 master's level social workers to 105 schools in 12 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First's school social work and after-school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.
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