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Embracing Positive Parenting for Happy, Confident Kids

AUTHOR'S NOTE: You are not alone if you find yourself resorting to shame in parenting. As I confess below, I've faced the same challenge, and despite my best intentions, it occasionally slips out. Parenting isn't about achieving perfection; it's a journey of progress. I share this not to make you feel guilty about shaming but to empower you with knowledge. When you have the opportunity, try some of these techniques and approaches, fostering a more positive and constructive parenting experience. Remember, it's all about learning and growing together.


XO,


Lisa


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Many, many MANY moons ago, I was sitting in a Health Science class (this was during a brief moment between 3rd and 4th year where I thought I would get into the Health Sciences LOL) and learned that SHAME is not actually helpful for meaningful behaviour change.


For this course, we were reading studies that showed the effectiveness of the gruesome images on cigarette packages was marginal at best. Showing teens the outcomes of long term drug use was the same.


Flash forward many years, some emotional trauma and two children later...I found myself using shame as a parenting technique on my own kids. It was as though it was the easiest tool in my (very limited) tool box that I would reach for any time I needed to parent my kids, EVEN THOUGH I KNEW IT WASN'T EFFECTIVE.


I always felt like shit afterwards and what would follow was an inevitable shame spiral on myself (ironic, isn't it?). I'd swear to do better and promise myself I wouldn't reach for it again. Then the next day...well, you get the picture.


Now that I realize that both myself and my children are Neurodivergent, I've learned some tactics that works SO much better for us and I wanted to share them with you here. Because chances are, if you're here, you're ready to break that shame cycle too.


As parents and caregivers, we often find ourselves resorting to various tactics to encourage positive behavior in children. One method that has been historically employed is shame, believing that it could steer them in the right direction. However, research and modern parenting practices have shown that shame is not an effective long-term motivator for behavior change in children. In this blog post, we will delve into why shame falls short as a motivator and explore more helpful alternatives that foster positive growth and development.


The Downside of Shame


Shame is an intense feeling of embarrassment and guilt, often accompanied by the fear of rejection or judgment from others. When used as a disciplinary tool, it can have detrimental effects on a child's emotional well-being and self-esteem. Here are some reasons why shame is counterproductive:


1. Hinders Emotional Development: Instead of learning from their mistakes, children may become fixated on avoiding shame, stifling their emotional growth and self-awareness. (I feel like MANY of us raised in the 80s and 90s can relate to this)


2. Damages Self-Esteem: Children subjected to shame may develop a negative self-image, feeling unworthy or unlovable, leading to low self-esteem that can persist into adulthood. (again, #relateable)


3. Encourages Hiding Mistakes: Children may resort to hiding their misbehavior, fearing the consequences of shame, making it difficult for adults to address and guide them effectively. (It's me, hi, I'm the problem, It's me)


4. Strains Parent-Child Relationship: Shame creates a distance between parents and children, impeding open communication and trust-building.


5. Diminishes Intrinsic Motivation: Instead of developing a genuine desire to do better, children may act out of fear, external pressure, or the desire to avoid shame, leading to superficial behavior changes.


Positive Reinforcement as an Alternative


Positive reinforcement is a powerful parenting approach that offers multiple benefits for children. It strengthens emotional bonds by creating a supportive and nurturing environment, fostering a sense of security and trust between parents and children. By recognizing and rewarding positive behavior, it encourages intrinsic motivation, leading to a genuine sense of pride and accomplishment in kids, which drives their future actions. Moreover, positive reinforcement focuses on progress rather than perfection, allowing children to learn and grow without feeling ashamed of their mistakes. It builds self-efficacy, boosting their self-confidence and belief in their abilities, helping them tackle challenges with determination. Additionally, this approach promotes open communication, enabling children to openly discuss their struggles and successes without fear of judgment, enhancing the parent-child relationship even further.


Practical Tips for Implementing Positive Reinforcement


1. Be Specific and Timely: When your little one finishes their room-cleaning mission without any parental nudge, give them an instant high-five! Be specific and point out what they did well. "Wow, buddy! Look at how you organized your toys and fluffed your pillows. Your room is like a neat little kingdom!"


2. Use Descriptive Praise: Ditch the "good job" and get creative with your cheers. When your kiddo sets the table, celebrate with flair. "Woo-hoo! Thank you, kitchen superstar! You've got the plates in perfect positions, and the forks are ready for action.


3. Offer Rewards Thoughtfully: When your kid keeps acing their homework game, reward their brainpower with a fun treat. "Guess what? You've nailed it again! Let's celebrate your brilliance with a special movie night or a trip to your favorite ice cream parlor!"


4. Set Realistic Goals: Cheering for small victories can be super motivating! As your young shoe-tying apprentice makes progress, shower them with praise. "Way to go! You're getting closer to the shoe-tying master title. High-five for mastering one shoe! Double-knot doesn't stand a chance!"


5. Be as Consistent as Possible: It's all about keeping the rewards flowing. When they rock their daily chores, stick to your word and give 'em the treats they deserve. "You're on fire, little helper! Keep it up, and we'll have that playtime treasure unlocked in no time!"


By sprinkling some playful enthusiasm into your positive reinforcement toolkit, you'll create a happy and loving atmosphere where your kids feel encouraged and supported in their awesome achievements.


AND AGAIN - this isn't about perfection. It's hard to "get it up" when you've.asked them 50 times to do something and they finally do it. THAT'S OK. If it doesn't happen this time, try again next time. And every time you're able to is a f*cking WIN!


GOOD LUCK!

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FURTHER READING:


  1. Psychology Today. (2022, July 31). How We Shame Our Children and How to Stop. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/family-prep/202207/how-we-shame-our-children-and-how-stop.

  2. Psychology Today. (2017, May 22). Why Shaming Doesn't Work. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/longing-nostalgia/201705/why-shaming-doesnt-work.

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Disclaimer:

I have used AI assistance to craft this post, incorporating my own thoughts and voice. The tools and strategies mentioned are ones that I genuinely use and have thoroughly vetted.


The information provided in this blog post is accurate and up to date at the time of publishing. It is essential to recognize that research in the field of ADHD, Autism, and other forms of Neurodivergence is continuously evolving, and new insights may emerge over time.


Please bear in mind that the content of this post is not intended to serve as a diagnostic tool. It is purely for informational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice or consultation. If you suspect or are living with ADHD, Autism, or any other form of Neurodivergence, I strongly urge you to seek guidance from a trained medical professional or qualified healthcare provider who can provide a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations based on your individual circumstances.


Every individual's situation is unique, and the information presented here may not apply to everyone. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to consult with a medical professional or trusted healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis, guidance, and tailored support. Your well-being is of utmost importance, and seeking expert advice is crucial to ensure you receive the best care and support for your specific needs.






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