My Tips for Gentle Parenting + Praising
Gentle parenting is one of the topics that The Mommy Codes is most known for. It is something that is brought up time and time again on my own parenting journey, and something that my community asks me about quite a lot in my direct messages. Here are a few of my tips on how to assess one of your children’s behaviours and work through this in a calm, caring style.
We all know how to tell our children that they have done something ‘right’. Do we actually know how how to really praise? Praise is essentially positive reinforcement. This can be seen as a great tool to lock in a behaviour that you want to see more of from your children.
Here are my three tips on how to praise your child.
- Pick a behaviour that you’d like your child to do more of, such as play nicely with other children or listen more.
- Praise right away when that behaviour occurs.
- Be consistent and repetitive with your praising.
How to Praise
The question of “But what do I say?” comes up a fair amount as well. Here are some steps on how to praise your children.
- Immediately after the good behaviour, in a soft, gentle tone, tell your child exactly what they did right. Example: “Oliver, that was so nice how you shared your dinosaur when you friend asked for it.”
- Smile or have a positive facial expression.
- Touch is so important! Reinforce your words with a pat on the back or give a kiss.
When you praise your child with these three steps, you create a repetitive pattern with memory by hearing (tone of your voice), visually (facial expressions), and psychically (touch of your hand or kiss).
What Not To Do
Listen up, parents! It is okay to make mistakes when you are on your own parenting journey. Often, these are the most common mistakes that occur when praising your children.
Not being specific about the behaviour. Try not to be generic. “Good girl, good boy!” That does not leave room to create self confidence or a self learning experience.
Do not create space for guilt. Avoid saying, “Why can’t you do this every day?” or “Your brother does it. Why can’t you?” These are examples of what not to say. Try to be patient and calm.
Do not create conditions for your love. Avoid saying, “Mommy loves you when you do this” Statements like this creates or implies that there are conditions of your love. Love is unconditional, and it’s not through rules of do’s or don’ts.
Start Praising Today
In summary, creating a repetitive awareness of good habits and behaviours takes some hard work. This example of praising should also be a parenting habit even if your child is well behaving. As humans, our brains are wired to pick up negative behaviours as a survival instinct. This is called negative bias. As much as we think we are limiting behaviours by calling out the negative ones, we are actually doing the opposite.
Start today by praising your child each time they are being good, and when you don’t even realize it. Train your brain to pick up on these moments for positive reinforcement.
Thank you for reading The Mommy Codes. Writing and sharing my journey through postpartum and as a parent is my true passion. I have other articles available on the topic of Gentle Parenting, including 4 Must Reads for Gentle Parenting and Gentle Parenting – The Basics. Follow along on my Instagram for my own journey!