We all want to maintain an affirming environment for our child, even when the consequences of his behavior interfere with our ability to do so. However, parents sometimes feel that their child winds up with the control and that no matter how gallant the effort, the positive guidance doesn’t always remain positive.
I am firmly convinced that children deserve the highest respect. As adults, we should guard our tone and facial expressions and also model before them what we want them to emulate. However, positive guidance means more than just saying “Yes,” in a very nice voice. If we are to guide them in a positive manner, we must be equipped with more than simply a good attitude and kind words.
According to Webster, one definition of “positive” means “formally laid down or expressed clearly.” If you apply this definition, you might find a whole new meaning to positive guidance. Before your child begins the next activity, adventure, meal, or whatever he is doing, ask yourself: “What is my ‘formally laid down or expressed clearly’ plan to guide him through this?”
I’ve noticed that great parents are really just parents who put in the effort. They have a plan, and they stick to their plan regardless of how difficult it is on them to follow through. They don’t argue with their child, no matter how hard she tries to control the situation. They confidently teach her respect for authority and that there are consequences for her choices. They know that there will be tears, but they also know that their “formally laid down or expressed clearly” plan will bring many opportunities to follow those tears with words of affirmation, hugs, redirection, and opportunities to catch her doing things well.
Perhaps considering this definition of “positive” will help you determine if you are doing the right thing for your child. Don’t stop trying to keep your environment as uplifting and full of words of affirmation as possible but also know that positive guidance is much more than just that. It means you must plan ahead, be prepared, be consistent, and don’t apologize for being the adult. Being consistent is in the best interest of the child. Children feel safe when they can predict with reasonable certainty what is going to happen next. They may act like the want the power to control; but in reality, it scares them. Guide them lovingly and with kindness but follow a very well laid out plan that keeps you one step ahead.