Positive parenting assumes that the basic element in any parenting style should be respect for children and adolescents as relational subjects
What is positive parenting?
Positive parenting assumes that the basic element in any parenting style should be respect for children and adolescents as relational subjects, who have the same rights as any adult person and, in addition, a group of rights that are inherent to them as developing human beings.
It entails a violence-free parenting style that, based on respectful treatment and education, has better chances to be effective, healthy, adequate and promote not only the necessary learning, but also the psychological well-being of children. Mídete, together with mothers, fathers and other caregivers of children and adolescent, addresses the importance of assuming these practices on a daily basis. This includes:
- Parenting style free of any type of violence.
- Diversity, freedom and autonomy: all ways of being a child are valid and fair.
- Shared parenting, in which mothers, fathers and other caregivers are equally responsible for children’s education.
- Respect for the rights of children and adolescents during their upbringing.
- Conscious affectivity: educating from affection, in a way that children and adolescents perceive affection.
Inventory of solutions for respectful parenting
I am a mother of two children, a three-year-old and a 19-month-old. My three-year-old boy is very active and often throws tantrums. Every time we told him that playtime or any other activity was over, he would start crying and could go on like that for almost an hour. He didn't understand limits. I recently read a piece of advice one of the doctors in the Respectful Parenting group gave to another mother. It was about setting an alarm for the child so that he would understand that, when it went off, he should stop whatever activity he was doing.
His father and I decided to do something similar. Now we tell him: "Baby, in five minutes we are going to take a bath", "we are going to sleep", "we are going to eat" or "we are going to kindergarten to play with other children". This way, we count down the minutes until we reach zero, and then he stops what he is doing without us telling him to do so. It has gone quite well so far and we have controlled the situation this way.
(Anabel Fernández Fernández, 29 years old, resident of Guantánamo province).
Reading every night
Since my little girl started primary school I tried to encourage her to read books like Heart, The Little Prince and Pinocchio, but I was unsuccessful. Finally, and taking advantage of the lockdown period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I managed to capture her interest with the book Cuentos de la Selva, by Horacio Quiroga. The book contains very short fables, and every night I read one to her. I came to the conclusion that looking for a book that catches her interest is more important than choosing a classic. Every time we talked about an animal I didn't know, we looked it up on the Internet and that's how the tradition of reading every night came about.
(Michel Soriano, resident in Havana).
Always with love
When my 3-year-old gets fussy or irritable about something she wants, it works for me to divert her attention to another object or activity. If the tantrum is because she was doing something that didn't work out, I try to help her to do it. A lot of times she won't let me because she gets very upset. I usually say, "Look at the nice clothes mommy wore today, let's put some nice clothes on you," or I talk to her about going for a walk. I always try to divert her thoughts to something nice. I speak softly and lovingly to her, even if she is screaming.
Sometimes she "overdoes it" a little bit and I get serious and tell her: "Mommy loves you very much, you shouldn't talk to me like that" and I continue with the conversation, until I manage to get her out of her frustration and explain to her that what she did was wrong and why.
(Inalvis Lamigueiro, 36 years old, resident of Havana)
Puppets are allies
I am a first-time mother of twin girls, born at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband and I have tried to ensure the emotional well-being and development of the girls. Parenting twins during a pandemic has been a challenge for us. As they began to walk and interact with each other, they began to clash with each other. When they want the same toy, they get infatuated and irritated if we don't give in to their desires, they imitate each other in both the good and the bad. Using puppets has worked very well for us. We use them to divert their attention from what may be causing the problem, we make them laugh.
The change of voices and the dialogue of the puppets is very entertaining for them. As for toys, we buy as many as we can; if not, we try to make sure that each one has something that is of great interest to her, so that it is not easy for her to let go. When that doesn't work, I put the toy away and switch to another activity until they are calm. Talking to them a lot, singing and asking them questions as if they were going to answer has also worked a lot for us, they become active and it is easier to get their attention and guide them where we want them to go.
(Marlen Limonta Fernández, 33 years old, resident of Havana).
Play, a mirror of how we raise
I know that I was wrong many times and that, in one way or another, I also exercised violence. It would have been much better if I had had all the tools I have today. It is only after saying this that I can talk about respectful parenting.
I have several very early anecdotes of acceptance or negotiation, such as letting my daughter wear the clothes of her choice the first time she wanted to do so, perhaps at the age of two, to the horror of the rest of the family; or offering her alternatives, but never forbidding her to listen to the inappropriate music she learned and enjoyed in the kindergarten, until she herself chose other options.
This is my favorite story because it speaks of parenting and its extensions: Many times I have seen small children hitting their toys because "they have misbehaved"; however, one day I surprised my daughter speaking very affectionately to a teddy bear: "Teddy bear, my darling, you can't behave like that".
A pet at home
One of the positive experiences during COVID-19 was the decision to adopt a puppy, Susu, as my 8-year-old son named her. Ernesto is an only child, in need of different kinds of interaction from what we as parents can offer him. The three of us had been alone for several months after the death of his great-grandmother, who was the closest thing to a playmate. He loves animals, everything from a lizard to a sparrow. Susu has been a playmate, and he has been taking on small responsibilities by looking after her. The family dynamic has changed for the better. He is a very affectionate child and you’d have to see how he talks to her: "daddy's little girl". He feels responsible too.
Looking back at our routine
One of the ways I have found to reinforce values or insist on behaviors that may be more appropriate at certain times is to tell my children a story. Both my 7-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl enjoy having us read them a story in the evenings or before bedtime. Sometimes, we also play at making up stories and then the characters and situations are related to some event of our day.
That is how they have heard about two sister ants that learned to share a grain of sugar or about the cricket that preferred the night to enjoy the silence because the people in the house where he lived were very noisy, and he did not like shouting and loud music. Some other times, I am the protagonist and I share memories of when I was little and I learned or heard something that may be useful to them or resembles a close experience. I value very much that communication that allows us to reminisce, to look back at our routine and also to create.
(Tamara Roselló Reina, 41 years old, resident of Havana)
I have a 21-month-old baby. When he was 15 months old, his father could no longer stay at home to look after him while I took care of the household chores, so I decided to involve him. At mealtimes, I gave him plastic plates or bowls, cups, spoons and while I cooked, he imitated what I was doing. Sometimes I would give him small broken crackers to pass from one plate to another, to a bowl or glass.
Other times, I would give him the garlic masher with two little cloves so he could do it himself. I did the same with the cleaning chores. I looked for good shoes to avoid falls and even though it takes me a little longer to finish, we have a lot of fun.
(Yenly Bravo Laffita, 31 years old, resident of Matanzas)
Learning can be fun
My 5-year-old son Thiago is smart but doesn't like to study. We have to spend a lot of time looking for solutions to motivate him. To help him learn the letters and their combinations, we created an educational game. We made a snake out of a cardboard plate, as if it were a board game, a board in the shape of an S, and we sectioned that line into cards.
Each section has a letter and a number, from A to Z and from 0 to 9. That way the child rolls the dice and has to take a certain number of steps. He has to count, add the dice, say three words if it is a letter, and if it is a number, do a small mathematical operation, a small addition, a subtraction, a comparison. Whoever gets to the end of the game wins. That has motivated him a lot, in fact, he learned to write his first words there.
Taking on tasks according to their possibilities
There can be many stories of a two-year-old child, especially when he begins to discover the world. A child born and raised in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic knows only his home and his parents. Motherhood is already difficult and raising him alone all day makes it difficult too, there is no time to do chores at home and to look after a child who demands attention. In my case, I found a solution that, far from hindering, can be an important catalyst in his development.
From a very young age, I gave him tasks according to his motor skills: he knows how to take off his pampers and put them in the trash or how to put his clothes in the laundry basket. Now that he is older, I have bought him a broom and mop set, so he can do it together with me; he has also learned to wash his feeding chair by himself, of course, always with the necessary levels of assistance. It is a form of bonding between us.
The bond of love between siblings
I have two children at home, Ernesto, 4, and Lucia, 1. Although we knew that jealousy is inevitable, we always tried very hard to make Erne feel part of the dynamic with the baby at home. Even so, he had regressions such as asking for help to eat, mispronouncing some words that he used to express correctly, as well as dependency and irritability. As the months went by, Lucia became more aware of his presence, and any opportunity was good to play tickles and cuddles.
Today, Lucia laughs happily when he is near her and Ernesto enjoys sharing his toys, snacks and teaching her important words like "pirates" and "dinosaur". I know that there will be many moments when they will get jealous of each other, but if there is something more touching than the experience of interacting with your babies, it is, without a doubt, the opportunity to see them cuddling and sharing games. The love they have for each other is the most beautiful and valuable thing I will ever achieve in life and without a doubt, my greatest pride as a mother.
Mental notes of a father from the beginning
Daniela is 8 months old. Every time I have to put her to sleep, even on the same day, I take mental notes that I will try to summarize in three words. Patience: when faced with the seeming impossibility of falling asleep, and the anxieties that her crying generates, let's try not to get upset, nor yell or scold the baby.
None of that works, we just have to wait. Dedication: never put the baby to sleep in a hurry because you have other things to do, this rush usually turns against us, the more we are in a hurry, the less they will sleep; it is impossible to force them. Perseverance: we must not give up, at some point they will fall asleep.
(Rodolfo Romero Reyes, resident in Havana).
Duties and rights on a par
We took a sheet of paper together and wrote down his duties and his rights in two columns. The rights: play, go to school, watch TV, go for a walk, eat, among others. We also wrote the duties together. I asked him, what do you think? what do you think about this one? This is how we came up with them, thinking about what he had to do -his duties- and what his rights were. I asked him if it was okay for him to print the sheet and put it on the door of his room. It worked for me because we did it together and it was like a pact that we had built together and that we had to fulfill.
(Ania Mirabal, resident in Havana).
You can join a growing community of mothers, fathers and other relatives of children and adolescents who are concerned about improving their positive or respectful parenting experiences. All you have to do is tell us very brief story about a solution that has worked for you in your daily educational practices (up to 100 words). You can send text or audio as you prefer. Send us the solution together with your name, surname, age and place of residence. If you wish, you can tell us just the story, without providing your personal information.
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