A few weeks ago I set myself a positive parenting challenge after becoming tired of being too negative and shouty with my kids. I was going to use more positive language, focus on clearly telling them what they should be doing rather than what they shouldn’t be doing and generally stop barking orders at them. I was going to find a way to say yes more that suits all of us, encourage their ‘big ideas’ and turn our home into a calm and peaceful one.

So how did I do?

One word: FAILURE

I’m not going to lie. I still shout and get cross when NJ (eight years old) is rude and disrespectful or doesn’t listen and stomps off before I’ve finished telling him off talking to him. I still shout ‘don’t jump on the sofa!’ when I see Roo (four years old) stand on the sofa with a cheeky grin on her face. I know I shouldn’t be doing this and I know that it doesn’t help.

It started so well

The first few days were easy. Every morning I gave NJ and Roo a cheery smile and a jolly ‘Good morning kids!’ They smiled back. I made breakfast, they ate their breakfast, they even got dressed AND put their socks on. I trotted off to work feeling smug after giving them both a kiss and cuddle at the door. It felt great. ‘Why didn’t I do this before?’ I wondered.

I am happy to report that I was nowhere near this:

And more like this:

So where did it go wrong?

There was one glaring oversight when it came to this new dawn as an amazingly calm and positive dad: it was still the Easter holidays.

Whilst I still waltzed off to work, the kids had no school so got to chill out at home with their mum. For our kids, this is an incredibly significant plot-twist. I’m not going to lie – they aren’t big fans of school. They both find it boring and it often seems to be bringing out the worst in them.

When they’re actually at school of course they are apparently delightfully polite and hard-working children, frequently praised by their teachers.

Yet in the evenings, when I get home from work, they are often so exhausted and cranky from being cooped up in a classroom for the majority of the day, that bedtime can easily descend into a fraught affair littered with protests and refusal. When I watch Roo sobbing and screaming and stamping her foot because her dad won’t carry her up the stairs because he’s already carrying her 13-month-old brother, his bedtime bottle and a pile of nappies, I wonder if they’re talking about the same children.

So once they returned to school after the Easter break, I came home to irritable kids and normal the frustrated and shouty service sadly resumed.

Is this the end of my Positive Parenting challenge?

Well, yes and no.

What I underestimated is how hard it is to change behaviour, and that it is not only my behaviour but that of my children I wanted to change. There are some days that I think it is easy and that we’re making progress. There are some days I wonder how I’ve managed to raise kids that can be so opinionated, bolshy and, of course, never wrong.

I’m naturally not like this and I typically tend to avoid people who are. This isn’t an option with my kids. There are some days I’m sure NJ disagrees just for the sake of it, that I could say that the sky is blue and he would most likely say no it’s grey (we do live in Manchester after all I guess…)

I once asked him whether he always had an answer for everything and he flatly replied ‘yes’. Taking the bait I asked him what was the other side of a black hole.

‘I don’t know,’ he replied.

‘Ah, so you don’t have an answer for everything,’ I replied a little too joyfully.

‘”I don’t know” is still an answer,’ he said.

He had me there, and with that I changed the subject.

However despite this I have noticed slight differences in the way I talk to my kids – or at least, I realise things before I say them more now.

One morning NJ was offered some chewing gum by a 10 year old friend on the walk to school. Now, we don’t let him have chewing gum and he knows this, but thought he’d ask anyway.

I didn’t instantly say ‘NO!’ as I normally would have done. Instead I found several other ways to say it and explain why, but he still sulked and protested. I then said:

‘We don’t eat chewing gum. They have their family rules and we have ours. If you’re not happy with our rules and want to talk about them we can do so later with Mummy. But right now, you can’t have any chewing gum.’

I’m not sure where that came from, but I was convinced it would do the trick. It didn’t. He still sulked off to school, but I felt better in myself for at least trying to show a bit of reasoning with him and not once shouting with frustration.

One thing I have found much easier is encouraging signs of independence, even if they’re scary ones, rather than shouting ‘don’t do that!’

For example, From the kitchen window I watched NJ painstakingly climb off the trampoline with Jasperino (13 months old) in his arms. He did it perfectly, and I knew he would be capable, but I still watched and waited for a trip or a fall and a screaming child. Thankfully It never came and I never shouted ‘Stop! Put him down!’ or ‘Wait, let me do it!’ like I probably would have done a few weeks ago. Instead I praised him and added ‘just let me know if you need help next time.’

So what next?

As I wrote in my original post, encouraging these ‘big ideas’ and empowering my kids to try new things is incredibly important to me.

Yet, there must still be work to be done if NJ asks me too play football in the garden and before I can even open my mouth he adds ‘Let me guess, the answer is “no”‘

That’s not the opinion of me I want. So I will continue to check the tone of my language and try to find that elusive ‘yes’ that suits all of us. And most importantly, I will talk and explain more rather than just shout or get annoyed.

So what about you? Does any of this resonate with you and your household? I would love to know your thoughts.

29 thoughts on “Positive Parenting Challenge Part 2

  1. Loved this blog, thank you. Theo is just coming up to his first birthday and I’ve started thinking about positive parenting recently. The number of times I say ‘no’ or ‘leave it’ already is incredible! As he gets older and understands more I’d like to train myself to use more positive language with him. Please carry on sharing your journey, good luck! #DreamTeam

  2. What a great read, so very relatable. I’m struggling with my cool calm collectedness at the moment. My 7.5yr old has become very defiant and argumentative of late and with juggling a 4yr old & 3 week old who are both not sleeping though the night this sleep deprived mummy is lacking in patience. #DreamTeam

  3. Sounds like a lot of hard work, but definitely worth sticking with. I try to do this as much as possible, but sometimes it ain’t easy! #DreamTeam

  4. The power of no and what Heather @ Shank You Very Much describes as a cannot do attitude! This completely resonated me with as we have a 14 year old. I’ve got nothing, but if you ever find a way you’re fortune is made once your best selling book is written and published 🙂 Good luck!

  5. Definitely a familiar especially with a very strong-willed and clever 4 year old. I am learning that I should take a second to calm myself, breathe and think twice about how to handle a situation best instead of just the usual no. Yelling is not the best solution. I’ve learned it is also important to let them win at the right situations. #dreamteam

  6. This is such a great post for you to share (especially as it didn’t completely go as planned). I sometimes find myself shouty and it just winds me up further as I feel guilty about losing my temper. I struggle with trying to set consequences when my daughter is badly behaved if there isn’t any natural consequence. We don’t have time out or a naughty step so apart from repeatedly saying no and explaining why she needs to stop there’s not much more to do! #DreamTeam

  7. I question my parenting all the time and I worry so much about it. The only thing that really helps is that I have heard if we do question our behaviours we probably are good enough parents after all as we obviously love our children and want to do better. Keep on keeping on! #DreamTeam

  8. It is a learning process. I try to keep my little one on her toes when she asks me something crazy to do. I do sometimes say yes! The look of surprise is great. Each family is different and unique. Good luck. #dreamteam

  9. My 8 year old seems to be at a particularly trying time. If I say no he just keeps asking and I end up snapping. He is obsessed with wanting to watch movies that are not suitable for him because a kid in his class is allowed. I know he responds better when I am calm, but it is hard work! #dreamteam

  10. This is a great post because I think we can all relate to it. I’ve written about positive praise before but then it’s easier to write these things that to actually doing them! You sound like you’re doing a great job and at least you can acknowledge that things can change. My only other comment comes with my teacher hat on…. after a long day at school your children are being positive all day so it’s not you! They are just tired and want to play up because it feels good. Ignore as much as possible, feed them and get them to bed! Expect nicer behaviour at weekends when they are refreshed. Great post buddy! #dreamteam

  11. Great post. It’s really hard isn’t it? I really hate shouting and always feel awful afterwards as I don’t think it achieves anything. Sounds like you are doing a great job and I like the idea of saying ‘yes’ more, think I need to set myself a challenge too. #dreamteam

  12. It is so hard… I find that I start each day positive parenting and then by the end of the day I am so worn down it all goes out of the window. Great post which totally resonated with me #dreamteam

  13. My mummy would like to be more positive in all aspects of her life and finds the parenting side the hardest to change mindsets. Sounds like you have it a good go 🙂 keep trying x #DreamTeam

  14. My husband and I are trying to challenge ourselves to do the same. When we’re tired, it seems to be impossible with our sassy pants 18 month old. I can only imagine how the sass will grow, we will become exhausted, and all that positive parenting will be a fond memory. You’re a role model for us now! Stay strong! (yet, realistic)!

  15. I think the frustration often lies in expecting quick results … obviously it takes a while to change behaviours that are ingrained, and built up. But nonetheless I do believe you’re on the right path by encouraging their take on the Big Ideas, and respecting their individuality. Thing is, I have found kids can take this sometimes as an excuse to take the piss, and indulge their desire for omnipotence. So, a slow process, but you sure aren’t raising automatons. #DreamTeam

  16. Parenting is by no means an easy job. Sometimes we need to be the bad guys when it comes to discipline issues. I think it should be about balance but gearing more towards positivity. As kids grow older so does the parenting style change – new phases and new challenges. It’s an ongoing process but no matter what you are doing a great job as a parent #dreamteam

  17. Love this! We are in this sort of tricky sticky zone too. I wonder if it’s a school age thing, but the long days definitely are a mood changer. I’m with you when it comes to checking what’s coming out of our own mouths first, because there is almost always a way to defuse a situation, even just a little bit. Good luck! 🙂 Thanks for being such a brilliant guest host on the #dreamteam.

  18. I used to yell a lot at my youngest who is naturally very rambunctious and hyper while I’m pretty calm but can easily get anxious about stuff. I really had to change my perception about certain things and yes, letting them be more independent is a definite plus in my book. Speaking from experience of not letting my kids do certain chores they could have done because I was more interested in “doing it right” rather than taking the time to teach them, now I’m kind of paying for it as my youngest especially hates helping me most days and my oldest doesn’t know how to wash the dishes properly, though he does try. Definitely encourage independence. I also do yoga and meditate and go hiking. These things help keep me calm for myself and that reflects how I respond to the kids when they do something I don’t like. #DreamTeam

  19. I worked in daycare for 13 years, I totally understand the urge to want to scream until you’re heard. I love that you are mindful of wanting to shift the tone of not only yourself, but how the kids respond. Never beat yourself up for your failures, the fact that you recognize than and want to fix them says amazing things about you! #DreamTeam

  20. I always start the day with the intention of being calmer and using reason when explaining why we can or can’t do something. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. I read your last post and I’ve been making more of an effort to watch my tone since then too. Again, some days it works and some it doesn’t, but I have noticed that my daughter responds better to a calmer tone. #thesatsesh

  21. I’m a shouter. It’s got to the point when they don’t even hear me or react to my presence unless I shout at them! But heaven forbid daddy shouts at them, then the whole world has come to an end and their precious little hearts are broken forever! It’s maddening. I think that being positive all the time is a little like the myth of perfect parenting – it’s just not practical – at least not for me.

  22. This sounds exactly like Misery Guts! He just has such a short fuse which turns him shouty…but then three kids does tend to bring out the worst in you at the end of a long day! #DreamTeam

  23. #thesatsesh id say keep going and give it time. I think drip feeding positivity is the best way forward and also as a role model allowing the kids to see that sometimes it doesn’t alway work out, but you’re continually trying to self improve. Also, kids are ****ers 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: