Making the switch from traditional parenting to conscious or positive parenting is a transformative experience for both parents and children; this change alone can help your child develop better social-skills, improve their self-esteem and mental health, support better academic performance, and increase better overall behavior.
The first step towards change is letting go of the need to control our children, and instead focusing on their development, needs, and the relationship we are building with them.
As a parent, it can be tempting to try to control every aspect of our child's life. The traditional way of parenting tries to accomplish that through rewards and imposed consequences to “mold” the children. Child won’t eat dinner? No dessert. Throwing a tantrum? Time-out. Had a good day at school? Here's a gold star. Put away the toys without pouting? 10 extra minutes of TV. Hit a playmate? Here’s a spanking for you... and the list goes on.
However, this ultimately hinders our relationship with our child because it can create power struggles, resentment, and a lot of frustration from both sides. Plus, this kind of parenting can be exhausting for the parents who are on behavior patrol 24/7 and end up interacting with their children in a reactive rather than proactive and more enjoyable way.
Conscious or positive parenting, on the other hand, is all about prioritizing the relationship between parent and child. It involves listening to our children, acknowledging their feelings, and collaborating with them to come up with solutions to problems. This approach is rooted in respect, empathy, and trust, and it can lead to happier, healthier, and more fulfilling relationships between parents and children. It also teaches children how to better manage their emotions and allows parents to be more effective in teaching their children skills that will be useful throughout their lives.
But making the switch from traditional to conscious parenting is easier said than done. It requires a significant shift in mindset, and it can be challenging to let go of the control we may have been accustomed to exerting over our children. Here are some tips for parents who are making the switch to conscious parenting:
Practice self-regulation - When we feel triggered or overwhelmed, it can be challenging to respond calmly and empathically to our children. That's why it's essential to practice self-regulation, which means taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and calming ourselves down before responding to our child's behavior. This can help us avoid reacting out of frustration or anger and instead respond with empathy and understanding.
Be patient with yourself - Changing your parenting style takes time, and it's essential to be patient with yourself. It's okay to make mistakes, and it's okay to take a step back and reassess if something isn't working. Remember that conscious parenting is all about progress, not perfection.
Focus on connection - Conscious parenting is rooted in connection, and it's essential to prioritize this in your relationship with your child. Spend time doing activities you both enjoy, listen to your child's thoughts and feelings, and show them that you value their input and ideas.
Practice active listening - When your child is expressing their feelings, it's essential to listen actively. This means paying attention to what they're saying, acknowledging their feelings, and responding with empathy and understanding. Even in the little, most mundane things your child decides to share with you. This can help your child feel heard and validated, which is essential for building a strong relationship.
Let go of control - This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of conscious parenting, but it's also the most crucial. When we try to control our children, we create power struggles that can harm our relationship with them. Instead, focus on collaborating with your child, acknowledging their feelings and needs, and working together to find solutions that work for everyone. It’s important to emphasize that this does not mean that rules and boundaries go out the window. Rules and boundaries are just as important, what changes is the way we communicate, and enforce them with our children.
Making the switch from traditional to conscious parenting can be a challenging process, but it's also incredibly rewarding. By prioritizing the relationship between parent and child, practicing empathy and understanding, and letting go of the need to control, you can build a strong, trusting, and fulfilling relationship with your child. Remember to be patient with yourself, practice self-regulation when feeling triggered, and focus on connection and collaboration, and you'll be on your way to becoming a conscious parent in no time!
Barbara Johns, LPC Associate
I believe that in order to heal, people need to have a safe space where they can explore what is contributing to their problems and how they can use their difficulties as fuel for personal growth in order to turn things around and live life the way they really want to. My goal is to provide you with that safe and supportive environment as well as with new tools and skills that you can take with you on your journey toward healing and growth.