Intentional parenting is planned parenting -- parenting decisions that you make before getting in the heat of a moment or situation -- decisions that come out of discussions with your partner or other caregivers in your child's life on what kind of parenting you want to provide.
The "N" WordOne of the hardest things I've had to learn as a parent is how to avoid using the word "no" all the time. It's turned out to be alot harder than I thought it would be. I mean, when you're dealing with toddlers, you run into a million situations and they are all learning opportunities! Here are a few:
Scenario #1: We're sitting down to dinner at a restaurant. My son asks, "Can I watch a movie? (on one of our smart phones).
What I usually say: Not right now.
What I should say: Why don't we <color / read a book / talk to each other>
Scenario #2: It's just about time for bed. I've given my son the 5 minute warning (he has five minutes left before we begin our bedtime routine), and now the five minutes are up.
What I usually say: Five minutes are up. No more playing.
What I should say: Five minutes are up. Let's move our play to the bathtub (or let's go find a book to read before bedtime).
I could list countless other scenarios, but the truth is, the two scenarios I shared above happen. All. The. Time. So I've told myself I'm going to work on these two scenarios first, and once I've mastered them, I'll tackle other issues, like how to take turns or share toys.
Positive Guidance is All About Perspective
Positive guidance is not just about avoiding the "no" word. Positive guidance is about helping your child understand what IS and ISN'T appropriate behavior according to the values you are teaching your child.
The mantra I have to repeat to myself to stay on the positive guidance path is don't say no; offer an alternative. "Don't grab another child's toy!" turns into "Please ask if you can trade toys." At times it may seem like there is no alternative to an action you don't want your child to perform, but most times there is -- sometimes we need to be creative as parents.
Why Positive Guidance is Important for Kids
Besides the obvious avoidance of constantly saying no, no, no (which can be frustrating for a child), we are answering the question they might have, which is, if I can't do that, what should I do instead? Our kids our still trying to learn right from wrong and we don't supply what is "right" then all they know is what is "wrong".
Consistency Is Key
While on the path to using positive guidance, another important rule is to be consistent. If I say no to my son's request for a movie at the restaurant one time and say yes another, it's confusing for him. Why can he have the movie at some times and not others?
Likewise, it's important that all caregivers are giving the same messages. Parents/guardians need to discuss the most pressing "learning opportunities", prioritize them, and decide which lessons need to be focused on first. If there are other caregivers involved (daycare, grandparents, babysitters), they should all be made aware of the learning opportunities that you are currently working on with your kids.
Next Tuesday with Intentional Parenting: Punishment, Reward, and Self-Motivation...
When you were a child, were you constantly told no? Parents: what's one of your current "learning opportunities"? Do you have a strategy for avoiding no?