Proof Positive

Being a parent is a great challenge which we keep on carrying throughout all our life. Several parents experience difficulties in the upbringing of their children; they might be afraid to fail as parents, or that decisions they as parents take now will not be the best and thus cause negative effects on their children’s future.

What is Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting involves parenting techniques based on love, encouragement, discipline, care and positive environment; as opposed to continually criticising your children, using incorrect forms of discipline, and using non-effective communication methods. Positive parenting is free from abuse or violence that leads children to grow up insecure, undisciplined, with challenging behaviour and low self esteem. Parenting here does not only refer to the role of the natural parents of the child, but includes all those people who, at one point or another, assure the role of child carer. There are a lot of positive parenting methods that one can adopt from our parents’ way of parenting. However, as a society it is not a secret that smacking children as a form of punishment or as a way of correcting them is an acceptable method of discipline.

Sometimes parents might feel that their child’s behaviour is so outrageous that they want to demonstrate to him/her that it is totally unacceptable. For example your child acts out while shopping in a supermarket. In such situations a smack might be a natural reaction since parents would be overwhelmed by emotion, shock and panic. Yet hitting children should never be justified. Unfortunately strict punishments, shouting and smacking always make matters worse with a naturally strong-willed child. Strict punishments have their downside, and some undesirable long‑term consequences. Children resent being mocked, about bullied and cornered. Children who are smacked start believing that such behaviour is acceptable and thus in return may start hitting and bully other children. Some others are likely to become more defiant and challenging, while others may not develop independently. Children who are smacked are more likely to display aggression, answer you back, even hit back, and may fear you instead of respect you. Thus positive parenting skills and methods offer an opportunity to both parents and children to be more parents and children. Parents’ role is that of ensuring that offspring grow in a loving caring and positively challenging environment. Children are to accept and realise that they are loved and that it is also their responsibility to ensure that their upbringing is mature and effective.

Ways to be a great parent without strict punishments
  • Show your child love and warmth as much as possible – the more they get used to this, the more they want to keep it that way. It is not enough to love them; children must know that they are loved.
  • Have clear simple rules and limits. Be consistent in expecting them to be met.
  • Be a good example.  Give reasons, talk, listen, and teach your child how to behave, be affirmative.
  • Observe them being good and highlight their good behaviour and their behaviour will improve.
  • Criticise behaviours you don’t like, not your child; use mild disapproval and reprimands when a rule is broken.
  • Give rewards for good behaviour (warm hugs, kisses and pat on shoulders are best).
  • Use homour to lighten up difficult situations.
  • Allow children some control – making choices, encouraging joint decisions.
  • If punishments are necessary, let your child experience natural and logical consequences. Imposing a consequence, removal of privileges, or time out all work better than smacking.

During the month of May, the Foundation for Social Welfare Services marks Child Protection Day, through its Blue Ribbon Campaign. This is an informative campaign aimed to emphasise our responsibility as a society, to prevent physical abuse. The Foundation through its agencies Aġenzija Appoġġ, Aġenzija Sapport and Aġenzija Sedqa, it offers support to many children and families through various services and programmes. The Foundation aims to promote a positive parenting style based on respect and love to the child, free from any kind of abuse.

Encouraging better behaviour: A practical guide to positive parenting. NSPCC 2002.