Let's talk about Yellow Light Behaviors—the annoying things your toddler does, like whining, begging, pouting, and interrupting—that can bug the heck out of you, especially if you’re tired or stressed. But when you master a few positive parenting techniques, you’ll be thrilled to see how quickly you and your tot can turn conflicts back into cooperation! But first. What is positive parenting?

What is Positive Parenting?

Positive parenting is a parenting style that takes into account a child's individual needs. A positive parenting style addresses early challenges with empathy and respect. 

Why is Positive Parenting important?

When parents use a positive parenting style with kids, they showcase real-world coping skills. Positive parenting teaches and reinforces the behaviors that help children learn to follow rules and regulate their emotions.

What are Positive Parenting Skills?

Positive parenting skills include:

  • Establishing a safe environment. 

  • Creating an environment that stimulates learning.

  • Setting realistic expectations for your child.

  • Using assertive, yet sensitive and empathetic discipline.

  • Being mindful of your physical and mental needs as a parent.

The Positive Parenting Approach

It's not easy to keep your cool. Your child’s annoying and defiant behavior may even call up bad memories from your own childhood, causing your temper to flare and making you overreact. But when you connect with respect (using the Fast- Food Rule and Toddler-ese), look for Win-Win Compromises (instead of getting locked into stubborn won’t-wont struggles), and enforce mild consequences like the clap-growl and kind ignore techniques discussed in The Happiest Toddler on the Block, your toddler will begin to cooperate. The key to having a happy home is to set clear and consistent limits. Limits teach toddlers the difference between right and wrong, safety and danger, and so on.

Setting clear limits is super important. We all want to raise our children with humility and kindness, but we also need show courage and resolve. Start each day with love, but when your child pushes, limits that are important so you…don’t cave in. When push comes to shove (and shove to bite!) you must respectfully use your power to keep order.

How to Set Limits Through Positive Parenting

  • Be reasonable: Tots have limited impulse control, so remove dangers and temptations (like fragile items) and make your home fit your child, rather than vice versa.

  • Keep it simple: Don’t use long sentences to set limits. (“It’s time to put away your crayons. I don’t want to have to ask you again. Please don’t make me nag.”) Simple statements work best. (“Crayons stay in the den.”)

  • Be consistent: Consistency helps kids learn right and wrong. Of course, no one is 100% consistent all of the time. On occasion, you can choose to bend the rules. But when you do, make it really clear that you’re making an exception (“Our rule is we only eat in the kitchen, BUT since today is Daddy’s birthday, we do something special and have a picnic in the living room.”)

  • Avoid mixed messages: Your tone of voice and the look on your face have to send the same message as your words. Want your child to know you mean business? Crouch down (just a bit above her eye level) and speak with a deeper voice and more stern, serious face.

    Smart parents also know how to pick their battles. Some limits are impossible to enforce. For example, it may be impossible to make your tot eat broccoli, poop on the potty, or overcome fears. So when you see you’re getting into a struggle that you can’t win, switch from giving warnings to using some good old charm, compromise, and positive parenting methods.


    More on Positive Parenting 

    About Dr. Harvey Karp

    Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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    Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.