Write me: rebecca@positive-parents.org


Most of us had parents who operated from a fear-based mindset. As a result, we may have naturally adopted that mindset as our own, and that negative or fear-based mindset could be what we are operating from each day, affecting every interaction and decision.


The fear-based mindset says:
1. I have to control my child’s behavior.
2. My child learns through consequences and/or punishment not to repeat bad behavior.
3. I am the dominant figure; my child is under me.


Here’s how to tell if you are parenting from a fear-based mindset. Do you use time-outs, counting to three, or threats of punishment to change behavior? Do you physically punish your child? Do you set no limits or weak limits because you want your child to like you? Do you fail to discipline altogether?


Both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles come from a fear-based mindset. Authoritarian parents fear losing control of their children. The focus is on obedience and punishing disobedience. Permissive parents fear losing their child’s affection or love. Neither of these have been shown to produce positive outcomes. Research shows that children who grow up with strict authoritarian parents do follow rules much of the time, but this obedience comes at the price of low self-esteem and increased aggression and hostility. Likewise, kids with permissive parents also often have low self-esteem along with behavioral problems and even a higher risk of health problems, like obesity.


Because many of us were parented punitively, we learned early on that this is how children are raised. This makes shifting our mindset a challenging but important step in becoming conscious, positive parents. You essentially must re-wire your brain to think about children and parenting in a new way, and this requires important self-work. The good news is that positive – or authoritative – parenting is shown to have the best outcome!


Authoritative parents operate from a love-based mindset at says:

  1. My role is to guide and teach my child appropriate behavior.
  2. My child learns through the examples set in the home and through limits that are set and enforced respectfully and with empathy.
  3. While I am the leader, my child has equal rights to be respected and to be heard.


Authoritative parents place a high value on the relationship, making sure to create and maintain a positive, healthy parent-child relationship. They take the time to explain their rules and boundaries to their children, and they take their kids’ feelings into consideration. They also take the time to teach appropriate behavior and head off problems before they start. Research shows that children with authoritative – or positive- parents tend to be happier and more successful. They are more likely to be responsible, have higher self-esteem, and make good decisions.


Steps for Shifting Your Mindset:

  1. Educate yourself on the development of your child’s brain. Understanding what your child is cognitively capable of will go a long way in changing your perspective on behavior. For example, when you understand that a toddler’s tantrum isn’t a calculated move against you but rather the result of overwhelming emotions in an immature brain, you will parent that child differently. When you see naughtiness, the urge is to punish, but when you see a child who is struggling, the urge is to help.
  2. Reframe your thoughts surrounding your child’s behavior. Rather than seeing it as misbehavior, see it as an opportunity to teach your child something valuable. Assume that your child has positive intent even if the behavior is negative. Seeing the best in your child means you will approach the problem with a positive mindset.
  3. Take time for proper self-care. A well-hydrated, well-nourished, well-rested parent is able to stay calmer and make better decisions. You matter, too!
  4. Feed your mind good things. Read uplifting books and articles. Follow positive people on social media. Develop healthy friendships with optimistic and like-minded people. Be careful not to complain or criticize too much. Having a happier, more positive mindset in general will help you be a more positive parent!

*This post was originally published at Creative Child Magazine.