When Positive Parenting Is Hard: 4 Steps To Reclaiming Your Confidence
Ever feel like positive parenting is out of reach for you? Here’s how to keep up so you can stay on a positive path – even when it’s hard!
There are typically two types of thoughts that run through parents’ minds when they hear the term “Positive Parenting.”
The first being, “Yes! Tell me all the things! I can’t WAIT to try this with my kids.”
And the second being, “I love the idea, but it just doesn’t work in our family.”
If you’ve ever tried positive parenting, there’s a good chance you’ve felt both ways. Because in theory, it sounds great!
Who wouldn’t want a better relationship with their kids while simultaneously empowering them with the skills they need to be happy, successful adults? It’s easy to get excited and ready to take on the challenge!
But in reality, it’s even easier to fall into doubt and insecurity, because let’s be honest, parenting “requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life.” (James Faust)
If you’ve ever felt that being a positive parent is hard work, you’d be right!
But that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for you.
Whether it’s been 253 days since the last time you yelled, or .253 seconds since the last time your kids made you question your sanity, positive parenting is for you. It will work for your kids. And it will do amazing things for your family.
But before we go any further, we need to talk about the Positive Parenting Trap.
AVOIDING THE POSITIVE PARENTING TRAP
Anyone who’s tried positive parenting, positive discipline, authoritative parenting, peaceful parenting, or any other parenting style in this category, has something in common:
Self-doubt. Insecurity. Feelings of incompetence or frustration.
And whenever their child acts up (like every child does at some point), or they get angry (like every parent does at some point) – they question themselves. They worry that positive parenting isn’t working, or that it’s just too hard.
What they don’t realize, however, is that they’re just riding the wave of the Dunning Kruger Effect – or the learning curve.
You see, the more we know about something, the less confident we feel and the more self-doubt we have. It’s perfectly normal – even in parenting!
Now, to be honest, I have days where I go through this entire cycle every hour. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on something, my kids throw me another curve ball.
You may have felt the same.
It’s no wonder being a parent makes us grow in ways we never thought imaginable! And it’s no wonder that imposter syndrome is rampant among parents.
We feel judged by those stuck in the “I know everything” phase, and we compare ourselves to those in the “It’s starting to make sense” phase.
But the very fact that we feel insecure is huge. It shows that we’re learning and we’re on the right path!
So the next time you’re tempted to give up on positive parenting, just remember – it IS hard. But it gets better.
And taking these 4 steps will help you gain the confidence you need to keep going.
4 STEPS TO TAKE WHEN POSITIVE PARENTING IS HARD
When we first look into positive parenting, we usually start with the “what should I do when my child …” questions. We want to know how to respond to behaviors.
And that’s a great place to start. But it’s only part of the picture.
You see, it’s called parenting for a reason. It’s about parents becoming better parents. If it were the other way around, it might be called “childrening.”
Also, controlling our kids and making them do the right thing isn’t the goal. Raising happy kids who know how to make good choices all by themselves, however, is.
And that starts with us.
We are the ones that get to choose the environment in our homes. We’re the ones that get to choose the pace, the culture, and even the rhythm. We’re the ones that get to choose how we discipline, respond, interact with and teach our children.
No wonder it’s so hard!
Of course, there will always be hiccups and mistakes, but here are a few things that can help you move forward with confidence.
STEP ONE: REDEFINE YOUR PARENTING VALUES AND GOALS
The birth of the internet has brought endless supplies of parenting knowledge and advice right to our fingertips. And while it can be extremely helpful, it can also be overwhelming.
We feel guilty for not doing things like the family we follow on Instagram. We let an article we found on Pinterest make us question our discipline choices. And we get sucked down an information rabbit hole each time we try to find the perfect solution to our parenting questions.
I have two words of advice for you: “Stop it.”
When it really comes down to it, you know your kids best. And you know what you want for your family.
It’s tempting to give in to what other families are doing or whatever the latest parenting advice or fad is promoting. But going against your parental instincts won’t bring the results you’re looking for.
So simplify. Find a few resources that align with your values and tune the rest out for now.
And when it’s time to make a parenting decision, ask yourself: “Does this align with what I want for my family?” If not, come back to the drawing board until you find a solution you’re comfortable with.
Positive parenting is hard, and it requires a lot of intentional effort and deliberate decisions.
But you’re strong enough to stand your ground. And having your parenting values and goals clearly defined will give you the confidence you need to make the right decisions for your family.
STEP TWO: RECLAIM YOUR WORTHINESS AS A PERSON
Of all the parenting skills out there, this one should be at the top. We have to take care of ourselves as if our jobs depend on it – because they do. Our relationship with ourselves heavily impacts our relationship with our kids and influences the way we parent them.
Of course, we need to take care of our physical health.
But we also need to take care of our emotional health.
Being a parent is a round-the-clock job. And unless we take preventative measures, we can project our anxiety and stress onto our kids, or just plain snap.
So without feeling guilty, take time for yourself, whenever and however you can. Take small breaks and keep doing things that energize you, help you feel relaxed, and bring you joy.
Discover the things that trigger your stress and anger. And look for ways to implement systems (or backup plans) so you can be better prepared to prevent or manage them.
And above all, find ways to heal from your past wounds.
Your experiences, past and present, shape your feelings, perception, and ability to handle the situations that trigger you. They can be the very things that set you over the edge or allow you to react calmly the next time your child squishes playdough into the carpet.
You certainly don’t have to do it alone, but each step you take on your path to healing strengthens your relationship with your children and increases your capacity to parent positively.
One of the best parts of positive parenting is that anyone can do it.
You can be a positive parent, even if you weren’t raised by one, even if your partner disciplines differently, and even if you just finished yelling at your kids for the 3rd time this morning.
You can always start over. You can always try again.
STEP THREE: BREAK AWAY FROM DESTRUCTIVE PARENTING HABITS AND CYCLES
When positive parenting gets hard, we often default to the habits and patterns we’re most familiar with. And often, those are the very behaviors we’re trying to break free from.
But luckily, we don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle we don’t like.
On average, it takes 66 days to form a new habit. So if you woke up determined to be a positive parent, only to lose your temper by 8:42 AM, don’t feel discouraged.
It takes time. It also takes a bit of planning.
This is where arming ourselves with positive discipline strategies comes in. When we know beforehand how we’d like to handle something, it dramatically increases our chances of success when the moment strikes.
It also helps to implement systems and routines that simplify and automate the stressful parts of the day.
And when you do yell or discipline in a way you don’t like, remember – that doesn’t mean your positive parenting efforts aren’t working.
Perfection isn’t the goal. Neither is exact consistency.
But being reliable most of the time? That you can do.
STEP FOUR: WRITE YOUR OWN POSITIVE PARENTING STORY
One of the biggest reasons positive parenting can seem so hard is because often, our definition is wrong.
Positive parenting doesn’t mean your kids will behave all the time. It doesn’t mean you’ll never need to use consequences. And it certainly doesn’t mean that your home will only be filled with positive emotions.
No, positive parenting is a way for imperfect, real parents to build strong relationships with their kids and equip them with the skills they need to grow into confident, capable adults.
So do it your way. Write your own story.
And whenever you find yourself questioning where you stand, come back to these 4 steps:
- Define your parenting goals.
- Tend to your own needs.
- Form new positive parenting habits and patterns.
- Remember, it’s YOUR story. Your family. Your journey.
And rather than trying to change everything at once, start with only one thing. Focus your efforts there, and then let your small wins motivate you to keep going.
The Peaceful Parent Starter Guide is a free guide that can show you exactly how to get started.
In the end, none of your efforts will be wasted. And as hard as positive parenting is, you’re strong enough to handle it.
OTHER HELPFUL POSTS:
- Yelling Does NOT Make You A Bad Parent – Here’s Why
- The 12 Secrets Of A Confident Child
- How To Be A More Intentional Parent Every Day
- It’s Time For A Whole New Way To Think About Your Goals
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