January is Positive Parenting Awareness Month
Ask Nicole: January 2020
By Nicole M. Young, MSW
Happy New Year! January is the 8th annual Positive Parenting Awareness Month in Santa Cruz County. Although parenting is a non-stop job that deserves recognition every day of the year, this month is an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a positive parent.
What is positive parenting?
It’s an approach to raising children based on collective wisdom and evidence about the skills and support children need to become happy, healthy, confident, independent human beings. Positive parenting promotes children’s healthy development, builds their capacity to handle emotions and solve problems, and teaches skills they’ll need to have healthy relationships at home, school and work. When children grow up in positive, loving, and safe environments with clear and consistent boundaries and limits, their brains are primed to learn in school, get along with others, and succeed as adults in future relationships and careers.
Positive parenting is not about being a perfect parent or raising a perfect child. Neither of those things exist in real life. And positive parenting is not about finding a “one size fits all” solution for parenting. That also doesn’t exist.
What does exist are multiple parenting programs in Santa Cruz County that provide families with information and support they need to raise happy, healthy children. One option is the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, backed by over 30 years of international research. The network of Triple P providers in our community has helped thousands of Santa Cruz County families over the past 10 years learn helpful and effective parenting tools.
This January, join us in celebrating the many biological, foster and adoptive parents, grandparents, relatives and other caregivers who are raising children. If you’re a parent or caregiver, give yourself a pat on the back (or other reward of your choice), then consider trying or recommitting to these positive parenting strategies:
- Spend quality time with your child or teen. Remember it can be brief, as long as it’s frequent. This provides reassurance that you’re available and responsive to their needs, which is the foundation of a positive relationship.
- Talk with your child or teen about things they’re interested in. Ask questions to keep the conversation going, and show interest in what they have to say. This strengthens relationships and builds communication skills.
- Show affection in ways that are comfortable to you and your child or teen. Hugs, cuddles, kisses, a pat on the back, or sitting close to each other are ways to show you care.
- Give descriptive praise to acknowledge your child’s or teen’s efforts, behaviors, and accomplishments. Be specific and sincere so they know what they’ve done well, and they can trust that your words have meaning.
- Give positive attention to your child or teen. A smile, wink, eye contact, or a “high five” are good ways to maintain a connection with them, without even saying a word.
- Have interesting, engaging activities for your child or teen to do. Get creative – use free items or activities that keep them busy (and out of trouble), learning, and growing. Give yourself bonus parenting points for doing the activities with them – it’s quality time!
- Set a good example. Remember children often repeat what they see and hear adults do – for better or for worse. If you want to raise honest, kind, caring children, take extra care to show your children what it looks and sounds like to be honest, kind, and caring.
- Create family rules. Family rules work best when they are fair, specific, easy to understand and follow, and focus on what to do instead of what not to do. Involve your child or teen in setting the rules so they have a chance to tell you what they think is fair, and you have a chance to make sure they understand the rules.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself and your children. Remember that it’s human nature to make mistakes, and each child learns and develops at different paces. Forgive yourself if you have a bad parenting day, then try again the next day.
- Take care of yourself. It’s hard for many parents to prioritize taking care of their own needs when they feel they have to constantly be “on” and meet the needs of their kids, partner, boss, co-workers, friends, and family. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish, but is necessary to keep being a positive parent throughout the year.
If you have a question or suggestion for next month’s column, please email me at [email protected].
Nicole Young is the mother of two children, ages 16 and 19, who also manages Santa Cruz County’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, the world’s leading positive parenting program. Scientifically proven, Triple P is made available locally by First 5 Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency (Mental Health Services Act) and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department. To find a Triple P parenting class or practitioner, visit http://triplep.first5scc.org, www.facebook.com/triplepscc or contact First 5 Santa Cruz County at 465-2217 or [email protected].