A lot of families are turning to positive parenting these days because they want to leave the yelling, screaming and anger that can happen with parenting in the past.

But what ends up sometimes happening with positive parenting is that the parents become permissive parents.

Positive parenting is still strict parenting.

It is loving parenting, but it is not permissive parenting.

Let me explain:

Parenting is a confusing world to navigate.  Most of us are on board that we no longer hit or spank our children.  And everyone would love to never yell or be angry with our children.  But the in-between section is gray, nebulous and full of indecision.

But you don’t want to be indecisive and your children don’t want you to be indecisive either.

So you have to come up with a plan.  And the first place that parents look for advice is on the internet.  This is great because the internet has so much information, and this is overwhelming because the internet has so much information.

I often find articles that say, “time-outs are bad”, and “consequences are bad”.  I read these articles and they make me want to hug my children all the time.  But then I scour them for exactly what I’m supposed to do when my whole family is losing it.  They give advice like: get close to your children, or give them space, or talk them through their emotions.

I’m sure that this works for some families and it is probably the ideal way to raise your children, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me and I’ve spoken with many parents who also struggle with this type of positive parenting.  I’ve only seen it confuse children because they don’t know what the expectations and limits are.

What does work for children is setting limits in a loving way.

So let’s make a plan.  You set a limit that says, “We do not hit people.”  You talk it over with your child and say, “We take care of each other, we do not hit people.”  Then you let them know ahead of time what the consequence will be.  “If you are hitting, that is not safe and you will need to spend time in your room where you and everyone else will be safe. Then when you are calm, you can join us again.”

Then, when your child hits someone, you pick up your child and bring them to their room (or pack n play, or safe space where they can calm down) while you calmly say something like, “We take care of each other.  We do not hit. I need you to be safe.  You can join us again when you are calm and safe.”

In this manner, you weren’t punitive, you weren’t aggressive, you weren’t angry.  You were loving and you set a limit.  This is important for children because children who don’t have limits have to keep pushing and questioning boundaries until they do know what the limit is.   So you can set a limit, have a consequence and even give a time-out in a positive way.

Now your child will probably want to leave the time-out almost immediately. That’s OK by me.  If they are truly calm and they are safe, then they can follow you back out.  If they are thrashing and screaming, then they need more time.

I read all the time that isolating a child when their behavior is unacceptable is damaging for the child.  So, I have to ask myself what do I do when I am overwhelmed?  Yes, sometimes I like a good hug, but most of the time I just need a minute to myself.  So what do I do when I’m losing it?  I go into my room, or I go outside for a minute.  I give myself a “time-out” and that’s not damaging to me.  It helps me calm down.  And that is what we are teaching our kids to do when we do it in a calm way.

So the next time your child reaches a limit and you are giving a consequence,  you can give them a hug while you do it.  Say, “As soon as you are calm and can be safe, we would love to have you join us.”  Hug and consequence.

That is positive parenting.