While the growing pains of raising kids through military life can be frustrating, there are many tips related to positive parenting for military families to help ease that journey. As parents, most of us strive to provide a safe, nurturing, encouraging environment for our children to grow up in throughout every stage of their lives. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s always a smooth path — there will be times when it’s tough, but also times when it’s so very rewarding, too.
Military parents in particular have a challenge ahead of them when it comes to parenting, not due to any fault of their own but because of the challenges presented by military life. Many military kids spend a lot of time with one parent while the other comes and goes through different deployments. There are also lots of moves, changes, and adjustments for both military kids and parents to navigate.
Read on to learn all our best suggestions for positive parenting for military families.
What Is Positive Parenting for Military Families?
Positive parenting is a unique type of parenting that helps parents teach their children what type of behavior is and is not acceptable using only positive techniques. Parents who implement positive parenting don’t incorporate any harsh punishments in their parenting to correct unwanted or incorrect behavior from their children.
Positive parenting provides a lot of techniques to help a parent guide their children toward the desired behaviors while allowing them to remain mentally healthy, emotionally safe, and properly adjusted. Positive parenting allows parents to proactively fulfill their children’s mental and emotional needs using positive interactions, helping encourage ideal behavior and preventing bad behavior from happening at all.
Examples of Positive Parenting for Military Families
- Supporting a child’s exploration of new things and discoveries.
- Being involved in (but not taking control of) a child’s decision-making.
- Paying attention and responding to the needs of a child (physical, emotional, and mental).
- Effectively communicating (which involves listening to the child and not just talking over them).
- Allowing a child to express themselves emotionally without trying to control their emotions.
- Rewarding positive behaviors.
- Communicating clear rules, boundaries, and expectations.
Positive parenting is a great way to stay involved in your child’s life rather than only intervening when they do something wrong. It helps a child grow up well-rounded, emotionally aware, and with excellent communication skills.
Tips on Positive Parenting for Military Families
1. Give Your Child the Attention They Need
This might seem like a simple tip but it’s so important. Rather than brushing off your child’s attention-seeking behavior or focusing on their whining or annoying habits, teach them an acceptable, polite way to ask for attention and then respond.
Give them a hug when they need one. Show affection when they desire it. Actively listen when they’re talking and refrain from interrupting them, guessing what their problem is, or giving unsolicited advice. Let them know that you are a safe place for them and it’s alright to be comforted.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
Have a discussion with your child (or children) about what is and is not acceptable in your home. Let them know the clear consequences of what happens if they break the rules. Make sure rules are straightforward, fair, and easy to follow.
Simple boundaries might be helping clean up their dishes, doing homework before watching TV, or using a polite voice when speaking to people.
3. Don’t Get Emotional Over Their Emotions
It’s so easy to react to strong emotions, even when they are coming from a child. When your child misbehaves, however, it’s so important to remain calm and communicate clearly. Tell them that you hear them but also communicate how you need them to behave instead. Praise and encourage them when they behave correctly.
4. Teach Your Child How to Respond to Boredom
When your child has a lot of energy and is bored, they are far more likely to misbehave. While it’s unreasonable to take on the responsibility of ensuring your child is entertained 100 percent of the time, you can help teach them what to do with their boredom. Find games, offer puzzles, and share other fun projects you can do at home. Even making a blanket fort is a great distraction.
5. Gently Guide Your Child Through Mistakes
Remember that your child is human. They’re going to make mistakes. Instead of hyper-focusing on the mistake itself, teach your child how to move through the moment and do better in the future. Encourage them towards better behavior to help them acquire the skills to improve.
6. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
As mentioned before, children are human and everyone messes up sometimes. Just as you won’t be a “perfect” parent, remember that your children can’t be perfect either. Give grace and remember to forgive often.
7. Avoid Your Own Negative Reactions
While it’s normal to get angry or frustrated at your child, it’s important that you, as the adult in the situation, maintain your self-control. Avoid negative responses like anger, sarcasm, or ridicule to your child’s mistakes. Maintain calm and clear communication.
8. Lead by Example
How do you expect your children to behave or respect you if you tell them to do something you’re not doing? Kids are geniuses at copying behavior. They’re going to mimic you in more ways than you realize. Act in a way you want your child to mirror if you want to have more success in positive parenting.
Positive parenting for military families may not always be easy. It requires a lot of work, self-reflection, and self-control, but it’s a wonderful way to keep your children feeling safe, seen, and respected. It can help incorporate more kindness and compassion, helping make family so much happier and healthier.