Active parenting: Building good behavior instead of responding to bad times

As a mom of two healthy, happy and well-behaved young girls, I thought I had parenting all figured out. My girls go to bed on time (most nights), they pick up their toys (by the time I count to three) and they eat their veggies (after some serious convincing).

As a wellness specialist with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, I realized that no matter how many kids we reached with health and safety education, ultimately parents have the most influence on their child’s well-being.

Active parenting is being proactive. Instead of waiting for your child to do something wrong, you teach values that become a foundation for their character as they grow.

Parents are the role models, caretakers, rule setters, grocery shoppers, chefs — they do it all! Let’s face it; parenting is tough. But it doesn’t have to be.

That’s where active parenting comes in. I thought that using my stern voice and counting to three was the best way to get my kids to do what I wanted. But a more effective way is to make polite requests, use “I” messages and firm reminders, and enforce logical consequences. This is what active parenting is all about.

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Now, when my daughter doesn’t pick up her crayons, I say, “I feel very disappointed when you don’t clean up your messes” instead of “You have to the count of three to pick up your crayons.”

Using “I” statements avoids putting the child on the defensive or creating a power struggle. If my child does not listen, I remind her with a more stern tone of voice: “Please pick up your crayons now.” If she still refuses, she has made a choice that has a negative consequence — losing the crayons for two days.

This is just one example of how active parenting can help make a happier home. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness is offering a free three-day active parenting workshop to help you:

  • Discover your parenting style
  • Recharge your parenting battery
  • Learn effective communication and discipline methods


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