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Family Matters

5 Secrets of Happy Moms

Positive parenting is more than a new approach toward discipline—it's what some say is a solution for your sanity

Happy moms aren’t magicians—but they do have a secret. The good news? It’s a life hack that any parent can adopt: positive parenting.

Positive parenting is a philosophy that focuses on the connection between you and your baby. It’s about trying to be empathetic and respectful now so you can increase cooperation and hopefully reduce power struggles as your child grows. Here's how to stay positive:

Try to find the upside

New motherhood can be hard and it’s okay to admit it, says Rebecca Eanes, the author of four books on positive parenting. But look for the positives, like getting to cuddle your baby during those 3 A.M. feedings. Bonus: Every time you respond to your baby, you strengthen the bonds between you.

Routines can help

Even the youngest baby likes knowing what to expect, Eanes says. A predictable schedule—from morning kisses to bedtime snuggles—can give your child a sense of security and cut down on crankiness. (Hers and yours!) Positive parenting is all about setting clear, developmentally-appropriate expectations so children know how to behave. When you babyproof, for example, your baby is free to explore in a safe way.

"Essentially, parents aren’t waiting to see if their kids struggle or fail," says Dr. Darren Sush, a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in California. "As kids succeed, parents have more opportunity to reinforce appropriate behavior rather than focusing on correcting or punishing problematic behavior."

Focus on solutions 

The problem with punishment is that it doesn't give kids a better way to deal with the feelings that inspired their misbehavior. Let's say your toddler hits another child. A positive parent tries to identify why the child hit and then teaches the child more appropriate methods of dealing with frustration like walking away or cuddling with a lovey.

"It takes a lot of time to teach these skills, it's true," Eanes says. "But without these skills, parents must go on policing behavior for much longer."

Show your love

Children feel connected when they feel loved, accepted, seen, heard, and understood. Start building that bond from day one and continue to make it a priority throughout childhood, Eanes explains. “Just understand that it’s a dance, and many times you’ll be out of sync.”

…and accept mistakes

It’s okay to slip up. Mistakes are the way we learn, after all. Be compassionate when you lose your cool and strive to improve without judging yourself harshly—and remember to treat your kids the same way when they misbehave.