Are You an Active Parent? Here’s How To Tell
Despite the name, active parenting has nothing to do with how much you work out. (If ever. No judgment.) Being an active parent means working to interact positively with your child within an authoritatively run household.
In other words, active parents use positive discipline methods that encourage growth, strong self-esteem, open communication and respect. It's tougher than just bossing kids around and punishing them for transgressions, but it yields much better results.
What Is Active Parenting
Active parenting is based on a parenting method known as the Adlerian theory. Alfred Adler believed that misbehaviors stem from feelings of discouragement. Rather than using harsh discipline to get kids to behave just for the sake of behaving, his methods focus on using positive reinforcement and natural consequences to encourage growth and independence.
Respect and mindfulness are the central points of active parenting. By showing children respect and understanding, even when they misbehave, the parent-child relationship is strengthened.
When parents have a strong, healthy relationship with their child, good behavior often follows on its own.
Signs You're Already an Active Parent
It's possible to practice active parenting without realizing you're doing it. In practice, active parenting looks like this:
- Setting goals with your child and praising their efforts to meet them
- Considering your child's perspective
- Asking them probing questions to better understand why they're behaving a certain way rather than jumping to conclusions
- Accepting your child for who they are, even if they have a different personality than your own
- Demonstrating respect for kids by encouraging independent thinking and problem solving
Active parenting embraces a holistic view of children. Active parents respect their kids as unique individuals.
If your approach to discipline is based on connecting with your child and understanding all the factors that contribute to their behavior, including their age, stage of development, and emotions, you're practicing active parenting.
Benefits of a Hands-On Parenting Approach
Active parenting promotes positive interactions between parents and their kids. The perks of building a sense of trust and respect with your child are substantial. Benefits of active parenting include:
- Fewer behavioral issues
- Better mental health
- Greater self-esteem
- Better performance in school
- Improved social skills
- A lowered risk of developing substance abuse issues
Another term for active parenting is positive parenting, and it's easy to see why. Active parenting techniques emphasize empowerment and unconditional love. When these concepts are applied consistently, good behavior is the natural result.
What Happens If You’re Not an Active Parent?
It's easy to react to a tantrum, a string of forgotten homework assignments, or a failure to do chores with anger and punishment, but it's not the most effective response.
Overreactions are just as harmful as not addressing misbehaviors at all. Taking a hands-off approach to parenting essentially forces kids to raise themselves.
If they're allowed to continue behaving however they want, it's easy for them to assume the adults in their lives simply don't care. With no incentive to make a change, they have no reason to push themselves to grow.
On the other hand, responding with aggression, accusations, or judgment leads to low self-esteem and a sense that they can't please their parents no matter what they do.
If they know they're going to be in trouble regardless, there's much less motivation to try at all.
Easy Ways to Practice Active Parenting
Being an active parent doesn't mean you have to be perfect. Everyone loses their temper sometimes. The important part is consistently trying to communicate with your child, understand where they're coming from, and approach parenting with love and empathy.
Some easy ways to start practicing positive parenting techniques if you don't already include:
- Aiming to lead and teach your children, not punish them
- Providing a safe space to communicate openly
- Listening to their perspective and working with them to find reasonable solutions when conflicts arise
- Taking your child's developmental stage into account when addressing behavioral problems
- Recognizing their positive behaviors to encourage more of the same
- Rewarding accomplishments
- Supporting your child's emotional needs through affection, warmth and unconditional love
For more information about how to practice positive parenting techniques, check out the video below.