I felt like I was failing. It sounded so simple, but it wasn’t easy.
I read the books and it all made sense.
I knew positive parenting was the right path for me. This was the parent I wanted to be.
But in reality, it was hard.
It was hard to always stay calm and non-reactive.
It was hard to always connect with empathy.
It was hard to always hold space when my kids had a meltdown.
If you’ve ever felt like giving up on positive parenting, you are not alone! Keep reading to learn how we can navigate the journey of positive parenting, even when it is hard!
Benefits of Positive Parenting
If you’re on this journey, you’ve probably read or heard about the amazing benefits of practicing positive parenting. Just a few of these benefits include:
- Helps nurture a child’s self-esteem
- Gives them the tools to create meaningful relationships
- Helps to create a safe and secure environment in which they can thrive
Although the benefits of positive parenting can help to motivate us on our positive parenting journeys, it doesn’t mean that the path is always an easy one. Being a parent is challenging, to say the least. We want the best for our kids, but making that a reality can feel messy and complicated.
Here are ten things we can do when positive parenting gets hard and we feel discouraged and are tempted to give up.
#1 Use Our Inner Guidance
If you are like me and striving to be a positive parent, you’ve probably also read many books, listened to the podcasts, and maybe even taken a course or two. All of that information is incredibly valuable, but it can also be quite overwhelming and sometimes conflicting.
Although so much of the information out there on positive parenting can inspire us to get on the right path, not every idea, activity, or guideline will be perfect for our own family. If something you’ve read or heard about positive parenting doesn’t sit well, that’s okay!
So, what can we do instead?
There’s no need to force what we think positive parenting should look like on our family. Instead, we can turn inward and listen to what our heart is saying.
It’s time to parent from within.
We can rest assured that we are the ones that know our children best. That knowledge can allow us to turn down the noise of the outer world and begin to turn inward.
Listening to our internal voice can take the worry away when our plan doesn’t perfectly follow someone else’s rules. It allows us to use our inner guidance and our family’s needs as our guide.
An added benefit to parenting from a place of inner guided wisdom is the calm and confidence that comes with the choices that we make for our family.
#2 Move Our Bodies
Movement is a beautiful way to reduce stress. Movement can help us shift from our heads into our bodies and hearts.
Yoga is an amazing way to bring movement and mindfulness into the days in which positive parenting is hard. Yoga gives us opportunities to practice moving into the heart space; plus it is a fun way to bring more movement, mindfulness and play into our time with our kids.
Many yoga poses are modeled after nature, so allowing ourselves to have fun and go on an animal yoga adventure with our kids can be a great family activity!
Taking a walk in nature is another wonderful way to find movement, as well as to reconnect with ourselves. Walking meditation is a great way to practice staying grounded and in the present moment while spending time in nature.
Here are some simple steps to help practice walking meditation:
- Choose a peaceful space in which to walk
- Take slow and intentional steps, being mindful of each movement
- Bring attention to the sensations experienced while walking
- When the mind wanders simply bring the focus back to the sensations
When we take time to move and practice presence, it is easier to be the positive parents we want to be.
#3 Allow Space for Feelings
It took me quite some time to realize that feelings are neither good nor bad; they are simply messages. Although these messages aren’t always easy to hear, they are opportunities to grow and move towards the positive parents we want to be.
In her book Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Dr. Laura Markham shares, “When we regulate our own emotions, our children learn to regulate their emotions.”
Taking the time to tune in to how we are feeling and to practice regulating our emotions can help us to model emotional self-care for our children.
When we allow space for our emotions to be seen and heard, we begin a journey of healing and self-love. Committing to doing this inner work will not only transform our relationship with our children but the relationship with ourselves as well.
#4 Recognize Personal Triggers
Our emotions and the triggers to different emotions are closely linked. When we start to feel frustrated or reactive, that’s an invitation to pause and notice what trigger may lay underneath those emotions.
Our perspectives and triggers around parenting often come from our past experiences, our own childhoods, and our current beliefs about what we think parenting should look like.
Dr. Markham states, “usually in parenting and in life, the best response to upsetting emotions is to reflect, not react. In other words, don’t take action when you’re triggered.”
When getting started with this inner work here are some beautiful steps to try:
- Notice when emotions are heightened
- Pause, breathe and become aware of any thoughts
- Notice the story that’s going on in the mind
- Choose a more empowering story, if needed
When we become aware of these beliefs we can begin to let go of the beliefs that no longer serve us and can then choose more empowering thoughts. This can help us parent from a place of abundance and love.
#5 Let Go of Comparison
It can be easy to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to parenting.
Glancing at the snapshots of others on social media might leave us feeling like we’re not doing enough as a parent.
It can help to remember that when browsing social media, we are only seeing a small fraction of another person’s life. Instead of using social media as a place to compare ourselves to other parents, we can focus on using it as a space to foster connection and nurture relationships.
If we find ourselves in the comparison mindset when scrolling through social media, it might be time to take a break.
Taking an extended break from social media can help us recenter ourselves and allow space to focus on the fact that no one is perfect and that perfection is not the goal in parenting.
When we choose to get back on social media, we should strive to scroll with mindfulness.
#6 Practice Meditation
Meditation is a beautiful way to turn down the outer noises and tune into our own self.
So often we are inundated with conflicting messages, pressure, and expectations from the outside world. Simply taking some time to sit in stillness can help us better listen to the messages of our hearts.
Studies have shown a strong correlation between practicing mindfulness and the reduction of parental stress.
As parents, it’s not always possible to sit in meditation for long periods of time. When time is limited we can still practice centering ourselves with a sacred pause.
Here are some steps for practicing sacred pause:
- Place a hand over your heart
- Gently allow the eyes to close
- Take a few calming deep breaths
I like to practice this sacred pause technique when my time is limited and when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It’s a quick way to reconnect with myself and come back to the present moment.
The heart-centering practice of mindfulness and meditation can help us to tune into our personal needs so we can more easily parent from inner wisdom at times in which positive parenting is hard.
#7 Create a Gratitude Practice
The challenges in our lives are often glaringly obvious. Intentionally looking for little and big things to be thankful for can help us more easily find the gifts in our lives. Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness.
Our children learn so much from watching us; modeling gratitude can also help them to intentionally look for the blessings and beauty in their lives.
Incorporating gratitude activities into our day with our children is a wonderful way to help strengthen our gratitude muscles.
Here are some ideas for practicing gratitude with children:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Give thanks at the dinner table
- Create a gratitude ritual
- Practice gratitude at bedtime
Having a consistent gratitude practice can help us more easily find things to appreciate and more consistently notice the things that are going right, even during the more challenging parenting moments.
#8 Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care means taking time to care for our own needs. When we take time to take care of ourselves we are filling up our cup so that we can pour more love into our kids.
One great way to infuse the day with self care is to start the day with a simple self-care ritual. Choose a few activities that help you to feel calm, so you start your day with a full cup.
Here are some self-care practice ideas:
- Take some deep calming breaths
- Spend time in nature
- Practice Yoga
- Go for a walk
- Make a cup of tea
- Listen to Music
- Take a bubble bath
Not only does practicing self-care help us to be a more calm and present parent, but it’s also a beautiful practice to introduce to our children. When we practice self-care, our children notice! We can even include them in some of our self-care practices; this has the beneficial side effect of encouraging our children to create their own beautiful self-care habits from an early age.
#9 Connect with Other Parents
Finding connection with other parents helps us feel less alone and more part of a community; it reminds us no one is perfect and that we’re all just doing our best.
Here are some ideas for finding parents to connect with:
- Join local parenting groups
- Reach out to existing friends
- Start a playgroup
- Connect with parents at school
- Find online parenting groups
It can take time to find like-minded parents and create close connections. Allow time to cultivate and nurture relationships.
When we take time to connect with like-minded moms and dads we often find inspiration and support in our positive parenting journey.
#10 Give Ourselves Grace
Being a parent is not an easy job. It’s important to give ourselves grace.
Giving ourselves grace means letting go of the idea of being a perfect parent. Our children don’t need us to be perfect. In fact, when we let go of perfection and allow ourselves to be authentic, we also give our children permission to honor who they are.
Practicing grace not only helps us during the more challenging times of our positive parenting journey; it also helps model self-compassion for our children.
We are enough just as we are. We are doing our best! Know that each moment is a new opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and our children.
The Journey of Positive Parenting
Positive parenting will certainly have its ups and downs, but over time our paths will begin to smooth out.
When we find ourselves faced with seemingly large obstacles, we can choose to approach them with curiosity and a willingness to learn and grow. Over time we will be more able to tune into what works best for us and our families.
Taking time to celebrate our big and little wins will help us to stay motivated on this challenging yet rewarding path. The journey of positive parenting takes time and isn’t always easy, but it will help us parent our kids from a place of love.
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
For our 2-minute action plan for fine parents, the focus is on finding confidence and creating a positive parenting path that feels good for you and your family. Here are some self-directed questions to help guide your reflection:
- What is one thing from the list above that I can practice and explore today?
- What are some self-care practices that nourish me? (Here are 100 self-care ideas to choose from!)
- What is a mantra that I can create to help me recenter myself in the more challenging moments of my day?
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
Here are some action steps you can take to care for yourself that will, in turn, allow for connections with your kids in a way that feels authentic. You can be the parent you want to be!
- Prioritize your self-care daily, so you can parent from a place of calm instead of burnout.
- Take time to connect with your children at a heart level.
- Allow space for feelings: both your own and your child’s feelings.
- Use your mantra anytime you feel triggered.
- Take time to connect with other parents and create meaningful friendships.
As parents, we are always learning and growing. So be sure to give yourself grace and keep going. And always remember, you are worth it!