Do you ever feel like as a parent 80% of your time is spent dealing with your child’s mistakes or misbehaviors and 20% of your time is directed towards positive parenting interactions? Are you tired of telling them what they need to do differently next time or trying to come up with consequences that you hope will teach them to make better choices? Then what happens? You get to hear about why it wasn’t their fault, how you aren’t being fair, why your suggestions won’t work and a host of other excuses they will throw at you to try and shift responsibility from them self to you or someone else, right? Does this sound at all familiar? If so, would you like to try something new? Then read on if you would like to learn a new positive parenting approach.

The following is an 7 step positive parenting method that puts the onus of correcting the problem or misbehavior squarely on the child’s shoulders and the parent serves more as a guide to the child rather than the “all knowing” problem solver or worse, the criticizing drill sergeant. This is a positive parenting approach because parents can be seen more as helpers rather than being enabling or punitive.

To increase the likelihood of success with this approach it is important to first make sure that your child understands what you feel your responsibility as a parent is, in relationship to them and their life. I believe that most parents would agree that a major part of their responsibility as a parent is to help their child be successful within the family and later on as an adult. Most children want to succeed and it is a parent’s job to help them be successful. However, it seems that parents are naturally programed to look for what their kids are doing wrong. Then they point the wrong out to them followed by telling them that they are not to do that anymore and imposing some kind of consequence or punishment. If this model worked convicts wouldn’t reoffend would they? This approach doesn’t see mistakes as opportunities to punish but rather to teach. The 7 step method goes as follows:

When do you use this model? When you have a problem with how your child is behaving.

Before you meet with your child.

Step 1.  Identify the problem behavior. Let’s say that Amber lied to her mother about where she was the night before. So, the problem behavior is that Amber lied.

Step 2.  Identify the success behavior. Do this without using a negative, i.e. Amber will stop lying. It helps to think of it in term of what they would do instead, i.e.  Amber tells her mother the truth.

Meeting with the child to address the problem.

Step 3.  Statement of commitment to their success. Remember Amber’s mom has already created an understanding between the two of them that she believes it is her job/responsibility to help Amber be successful. She may say something like, “Amber, I want you to be a successful member of our family.”

Step 4.  Statement of what they need to do to be successful. “When I call you and ask you where you are, you need to be honest.”

Step 5.  Statement of what they did (without judgment). “When I called you to come home last night you told me you were with Karli when you were really with Amy.”

Step 6.  Ask what they need to do to be successful. Don’t sneak solutions in for them. They are much more likely to adhere to their proposed solutions if they come up with them on their own. However, their solutions need to be something that you can agree to.

Amber’s mother would ask her “So Amber, what do you need to do to be successful in our family?”

Amber might say, “What do you have against Amy? You just don’t know her like I do. She isn’t a bad person like you think she is. You need to give her a chance.”

Amber’s mother would stay the course by repeating, “Amber what do you need to do to be successful?’

Amber says, “Okay, I need to tell you the truth about who I am with.”

Amber’s mother, “What else can you do to be successful?”

Amber says, “I don’t know. I guess not put myself in positions where I feel like I have to lie.”

Amber’s mother drills down even deeper by asking, “What do you need to do so you are not in that kind of a position?”

Amber comes up with, “Do what I say I am going to do and hang out with kids that I know you approve of.”

Amber’s Mother, “That sounds like a great plan and I bet you can follow it. Do we have an agreement? Great! Oh, and by the way, why don’t you invite Amy over for dinner some time? I bet you are right and I might like Amy if I just got to know her better.”

Step 7.  Follow up. Meet with your child to evaluate the success of the plan. If they have been successful the praise and recognize them for their accomplishments. Recall the time or times that they have followed their plan and express your appreciation. If they have not been successful then it is time to come up with a new plan.

Can you see how this approach is different from a traditional parenting style? The parent guides the child to coming up with their own solutions. This approach communicates to the child that the parent knows that they are capable of solving their own problems which helps build their self-confidence.  

With a traditional parenting style the child would simply be punished for lying to their parent by being grounded, spanked or having something of value taken away. When this kind of approach is used it may rob the child of an opportunity to learn something of value. They will stop thinking about what they did that was wrong and how they can do better. Their thoughts are redirected to the parent and what the parent is doing “to them” rather than what they have done to themselves.

I have seen and heard of many instances where parents have used this 7 step method effectively and they have been pleasantly surprised at how well their children have responded.