2 Steps to Positive Parenting
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
You may be familiar with the saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, some more familiar than others - depending on your family upbringing. The poet Samuel Butler in 1664 was the source of this quote that has often been interpreted too literally.
Research advising parents to develop other means of discipline instead of physical means is strong. A national study that consisted of almost 10,000 adults by Kaiser called the A.C.E. or Adverse Childhood Experiences made a solid connection between being exposed to adverse circumstances like physical punishment as a child with an increased likelihood of developing health and emotional problems as an adult. The most alarming finding was that exposure to multiple risk factors as a child was found to lead to early death due to disease or suicide.
So, what should parents’ resort to when their child misbehaves? Will the outcomes of the A.C.E. study make parents more permissive? Parents can and should enforce consequences to eliminate behaviors that are not acceptable.
1. Define the do's and don'ts
The first step is to establish rules for appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
Then, parents can instruct the child that behaviors that are not allowed will result in a consequence. The consequence needs to be undesirable, not harsh. For toddlers, controlling impulsive behaviors like hitting can be addressed with time-outs. Over time, most misbehaviors will gradually extinguish.
2. Enforce, Enforce, and Enforce
Once those rules are set, parents need to follow through. To be effective, rules must be consistently enforced. Consequences, such as time-outs have been found to be effective in eliminating unwanted behaviors. The use of time-outs involves noting the rule that has been broken, administering the consequence (time-out), and acknowledgment the child for completing the time-out.
Simple, yet effective, the time-out is the best defense against a child’s offense.
The point of the time-out is to offer both the parent and child an opportunity to cool-down. Many childhood infractions can boil any cool-headed parent’s blood. So, the time-out affords the parent a chance to take a breather. It's a break for both parent and child.
From my own experiences as a child, a sibling, an educational therapist, and most importantly a parent, I know that children learn with structure and guidance.
The A.C.E. study supports parents to find alternative methods to mold their child’s behavior. The reward is inherent. We get to raise happy, resilient children and see them flourish into adults who lead healthy and productive lives.
It’s not a stretch to imagine a boost to the average life expectancy for American adults with more parents on board with using positive parenting practices.