Write me: rebecca@positive-parents.org

Photo credit: Creative Child Magazine

Rarely do I hear from parents who have tried the positive parenting approach and felt it wasn’t working. Most often, moms and dads tell me that it transformed their relationships and that their children behave better. Occasionally, though, I’ve heard “I’m doing it, but it’s not working!” It’s impossible to tell what is causing the problem because every child, parent, and household is so unique. However, there are six common circumstances that might cause positive parenting attempts to feel like a failure.

You’re being permissive.
Connected relationships are the foundation of positive parenting. When a child has a secure attachment with his caregiver, he is more cooperative. As parents, we have the most influence on children when we have their hearts. This doesn’t mean, however, that we tiptoe around our kids, afraid to set any limit that would cause them to be upset with us for fear of damaging the relationship.

Positive parents are still very much in the leadership role and we must set limits and maintain boundaries.

So, if you’re finding that you’re letting your child overstep boundaries just to avoid conflict or confrontation, it’s likely that you’re being too permissive. Work on being firm and kind at the same time. Envision yourself as a calm and capable pilot. A little turbulence doesn’t fluster you. If you’re unsure what to do when your kids overstep their boundaries, try these positive parenting alternatives to time-out that work.

You’re not living the messages you’re preaching.
Who we are to our kids matters more than what we say. Children watch us – how we handle ourselves, how we react, how we behave – and they imitate what they see. The old “do as I say, not as I do” adage doesn’t work in positive parenting because it requires escalating punishments to make kids comply when their natural inclination is to do what their parents do. To have the greatest positive impact, make sure your own behavior is in line with the messages and values you want your kids to live by.

You and your partner are sending conflicting messages.
It’s confusing for kids when one parent is trying to be positive while the other is punitive. For positive parenting to work best, both parents need to come to an agreement that this is best for their family and commit to practicing it wholeheartedly. My new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, will help you and your partner work through your differences and get on the same page.

There’s a strong negative influence in the child’s life.
It could be a friend to whom your child has an attachment, something from the Internet, or even a TV show. I once had to cut out a certain cartoon until my children were older because they mimicked things the cartoon characters said that sounded rude.

Children are great imitators.

If they see and hear their friends exhibiting a certain behavior, they may try it out, too. Be aware of who and what is influencing your child, set clear limits, and maintain your boundaries. In my opinion, losing television privileges isn’t an arbitrary punishment if the television is what’s causing the problem. It’s a logical solution to the problem.

Your expectations are too high.
If you’ve recently transitioned to positive parenting, it will likely take some time for everyone to adjust to the changes. Don’t give up too soon. You also have to ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable for your child’s age and circumstances. Is it possible that you’re comparing yourself or your children to others or setting a standard of perfection that isn’t attainable?

The relationship needs work.
There may be a disconnect present in your relationship. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’ve done something terribly wrong. If your child seems defiant or frequently breaks rules or doesn’t listen, that’s a cue that you should spend more time connecting with her. Here are 10 ways to connect with your child.

We all hit roadblocks in this parenting journey. If it seems like positive parenting isn’t working for you right now, don’t give up. Being receptive and open to the possibilities of improvement is half the work!

**This post was originally published at Creative Child Magazine.

Find more of my Creative Child articles here.


Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide

Positive Parenting is more than a parenting book. It’s a guide to human connection. Rebecca provides a roadmap for creating happy, deeply connected families where children and parents alike are able to rise to their fullest potential.”  –Amy McCready, author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic

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