Back to Basics: ABCs of Positive Parenting

From the very first moment that a child enters the world and throughout the first three years of life, positive parenting is the key needed to unlock his or her full potential.

Babies are born ready to learn and parents are a child’s first teachers.

Understanding the fundamentals of positive parenting can help new or expecting mothers and fathers ensure their child develops the tools that he or she needs to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom.

According to The Urban Child Institute, positive parenting promotes optimal brain development in young children and is one of the most powerful influences on a child’s future success.

Although each baby is unique, there are several common parenting techniques that can aid all parents and caregivers in facilitating positive outcomes for their children.

For starters, full development of the five senses – sight, touch, smell, taste and sound – is the first step in building the mental connections required for any child to receive, retain and process new information. At birth, a baby’s senses are limited. Parents can promote their development by teaching their child about his or her new surroundings.

The Urban Child Institute reports that by the time a child reaches age three, the brain is 80 percent of its adult size. Positive parenting activities such as touching, talking, reading, and playing are critical during this period. Experiences such as these build the foundation for learning.

The environment in which a child is raised contributes to his or her ability to adapt, succeed and thrive. Studies have shown that creating a positive environment will make a baby feel secure, nurtured and protected. These feelings will in turn strengthen circuits in the brain that alert children when they are safe and loved, helping to build self-esteem and self-confidence.

Because babies have not yet acquired the skills needed to cope with adversity, creating a positive, stress-free environment also helps to decrease the risk that a child will feel threatened or unsafe. When experienced at an early age, negative emotions like these can cause toxic stress, with devastating effects that can last throughout childhood and adulthood.

According to The Urban Child Institute, infants who are raised in a positive environment with a strong family structure, low-conflict relationships, and a welcoming home will have an easier time learning to express their thoughts and feelings. They are also more likely to develop a love of learning and curiosity about the world around them – skills that will prove beneficial not only in school but later in life.

Skills such as language and literacy, thinking, self-control and self-confidence are also being determined from birth to age three. These are key aspects of school readiness.

The Urban Child Institute reports that the people, places and things that children encounter during the first three years of life significantly influence their well-being.

Parents that maintain a positive attitude, work together, and remain attentive and responsive to their child’s needs can help their child develop critical skills, even during the first three years, that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

While the concept of positive parenting may seem like a no-brainer to some, outside distractions can easily interfere with good intentions to remain consistent in the practice. Parents should strive to stay focused on the end goal – raising a healthy, happy child that will grow into a happy, healthy and successful adult. Challenges during parenthood – particularly during infancy and the toddler stage – are to be expected but they can be overcome with thoughtful and deliberate action.

Positive parenting is a basic tool that parents can use not only to help their child build a solid foundation for learning, but also to reinforce mental, emotional and social stability, and to knock down barriers to future success.

Tarrin McGhee is the owner of Pique Creative.

This article was originally published by the Tri-State Defender, and is available online at: