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Lena Engel
Worked as an Ofsted Early Years Inspector for Kensington and Chelsea Borough. Supported teachers in schools to improve outcomes for children’s learning, and written for Nursery World Magazine. She trains, assesses and mentors early years practitioners, and offers advice and guidance to parents.
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Stage 8 – before 5th birthday

Seven tips to positive parenting

Positive parenting is a respectful strategy to encourage good emotional development and appropriate behaviour in children. It helps both parents and children to reflect on their emotions and offers simple tips to prevent battles in day to day life.
In Short
1. Model respectful behaviour between you and your partner. 

2. Explain what you are doing and what you expect your child to do to help you.

3. Give simple instructions for tasks.

4. Give clear and descriptive praise of your child’s efforts.

5. Try to focus on good behaviour that you can praise, and ignore or discuss less good behaviour.

6. Offer clear choices.

7. Encourage her to help you develop simple house rules.

What is Positive Parenting?

Positive Parenting is all about thinking of your role of parent with your children in a creative way. Working out why you wanted to become a parent and how your beliefs and expectations of parenthood can be analysed and configured to help you achieve the best outcomes for you and your children.

To support parents to act positively means helping them see that they and their children all deserve the greatest respect because as humans we depend on love and attention to make us grow and progress.

As adults, we have become used to the importance of treating our fellow workers and professionals well because good management is good business sense, but few of us realise that the techniques we use in the workplace with our colleagues work just as well with our children and partners.

So how does this work for us at home with our children?

For a start ask the question why you have chosen to have children? Sit with your partner and list your reasons, such as:

  • Continuing the line.
  • Wanting to see what you can produce between you.
  • Satisfying the expectations of the family.
  • Wanting more out of life.
  • Keeping up with your friends.
  • Fulfilling the need to see what you can create and nurture.
  • Putting something good into the world and society.
  • Spreading your love.

Without making value judgements, some of these reasons are more focused on your own emotional and social needs, than on the responsibilities of creating and sustaining everlasting relationships with the children you will produce. Nevertheless the ability to discuss these issues will help you develop awareness about how you see yourselves and the influence that you have on each other. Never forget that discussing does not need to become an argument and sharing views is constructive and helps you put priorities in order.

Depending on your value systems there is no right or wrong answer to the questions that you pose. What is essential is that you both believe that you can make a true commitment of time and energy to the children that you produce and bring up. That is the most effective baseline to develop a positive parenting approach. The preparation for having a baby once you become pregnant will occupy most of your time before the birth, so you may not have time to explore how you expect to manage your baby and discuss the strategies you will need to act consistently in your responses to the child.

For parents who are isolated and live a long way from their families, it can be very hard to establish a workable routine and to feel that you are doing the right thing. Of course, there are a series of useful books and websites that will support you through the first few weeks and the euphoria of having the baby will also give you the burst of strength to keep you happy and positive. However, as your life returns to normal, you may start to feel that you want better control over the time that you are devoting to your demanding baby. Positive parenting strategies will be instrumental in how you take your role of a parent forward.

Strategies for Positive Parenting

By choosing to have children you are making them the centre of your lives for the foreseeable future – children, like puppies, are for life. You should enjoy your child and believe that she can represent the best you can offer from you and your partner – this will come to pass because children copy the adults who take care of them and strive to please them. Children are extremely sensitive from the early stages and even in the womb can be subject to upset from the feelings of stress that the mother may exhibit. Show you love and cherish your baby by caring for yourself and try to maintain a consistent level of contented mood and outlook on life’s daily challenges.

Showing love and attention

There is never too much love that you can offer to your child, as long as it is tempered with the knowledge that demonstrating love changes as children grow. What started as blowing raspberries on your baby’s tummy when you changed her nappy, should develop into cuddles, appropriate praise, showing interest and giving time to your child as she ages. This form of love gives your child the feeling of security, acceptance and safety that a family can provide. It will help build empathy and the personal qualities your child needs to develop resilience and be happy in wider social contexts and external relationships.

Good communication

The moment your child is born, she will respond to the communication you offer and the stimulation that you promote will inspire the brain development that is required for her to grow and learn. Positive responses within all parenting routines are crucial to the successful development and good bonding. Talk with your partner and your baby naturally, using modulated tones of voice with your baby because she will respond to higher pitched as well as low pitched speech. Good communication is a cornerstone of positive parenting as it promotes the development of independence and confidence in the child. It also confirms that parents are interested in their child’s progress and provides the opportunity to make sure that the time spent together is worthwhile and consolidates the knowledge and cultural influences that you want to pass on to the next generation.

Consistent responses in parenting

Babies and young children need consistent handling and regular routines so that they can feel the rhythm of the day and learn to fit into a system that meets their prime needs, as well as fulfils their emotional and social development.

Routines for feeding, sleeping and playing are the first expectations for new parents to put into place. As your child grows, she needs to experience consistent expectations for behaviour and see that caring adults are in tune with each other and have agreed responses to what she does. These agreed responses from parents are essential to stabilise the child’s emotional balance and impact on positive brain development.

Good behaviour management

Parents often become dissatisfied with themselves when they begin to think that they cannot control their children. It might be that this is in comparison with their friends or relatives or as a reaction from school or nursery staff. If you want to guide your children more effectively:

  1. Become more aware as adults of how you treat each other and what role models you offer your child.
  2. Ensure that from the earliest stage, you explain what you are doing and what you expect your child to do to help you.
  3. Give clear and simple instructions for tasks.
  4. Reward her by giving clear and descriptive praise.
  5. Try to focus on good behaviour that you can praise, and ignore less good behaviour.
  6. Only give your child the opportunity to make a choice from two options.
  7. Encourage her to help you develop simple house rules that everyone in the home can follow.

Providing children with the skills to perform practical tasks to work alongside you, will divert them from wanting to attract your attention by misbehaving. Happy and fulfilled parents will help their children grow up happy and fulfilled.

If you would like to contact Lena for one-on-one advice for children aged 0 – 19 years, please email her on

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.