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2 Simple Tips for Positive Parenting


Tips to Flip the Switch and Find the Joy

by TMC President, Sam Kurtzman-Counter

Parenting is hard.  We are challenged with incredibly high stakes as we do our best to try and raise good people.  But man, the whining and tantrums and defiance and disrespect and sleepless nights and shlepping all around town and years of kissing “me time” goodbye all add up to some pretty worn down and oft grumpy parenting.  Thank goodness our little ones are so flipping cute or our species might just cease to exist!

But really, when we are running on empty and our reserves of creative problem solving are completely depleted, what can we do to recharge our batteries and tip the scales back to the positive side of parenting?  Remember the joy?  Turn the beat around???

When I’m at my wit’s end and Jack and I are in a butting heads phase, there are two things I’ve found to be super helpful for positive parenting:

1.)  Special Time.

I have had incredible success with this one.  Basically, the idea is that for 15 minutes a day, you check your tech and focus 100% on your kid.  Just 15 minutes!  Even 10 will do the trick.  Make a really big deal out of it:  “I’m not going to use my phone, I’m turning off the computer, I won’t cook, I won’t clean, I won’t even answer the door if someone knocks!  I am totally and completely yours for 15 minutes.”  And then follow through.

Look at the clock together or set an alarm so you know when Special Time is over, so it feels really clear that you are completely present for that period of time.  Even if you stay at home with your kid all day, Special Time should be set aside and very different from regular time together.

And then let your child decide what you two will play – let him/her guide the play and feel like you are game for whatever s/he wants to do.  You’d be amazed how much that little amount of focused attention can fill the love bank and turn a difficult phase around.  Kin Community did a little video with me about this, if you want to check it out.


2.)  A “Yes Day.”

This one is hard for some people to wrap their minds around.  I’m not suggesting that you say “yes” to anything that truly breaks a family rule.  Mostly, the idea behind a “Yes Day” is to really stop and think if you need to say “no” as often as you do.  Have you ever taken stock of the number of times you say “no” in a day?   I find that I say “no” to Jack ALL THE TIME.  And if I really stop to think about it, most of the time what he’s asking for is pretty acceptable.  It’s just usually not what was in the game plan I’d laid out for the day.

Can he wear flip-flops instead of sneakers, can he draw instead of going to the park, can he play 15 minutes longer instead of reading a book before bed?  These are not horrible rule-breaking offenses, but my knee-jerk reaction is to say “no” if it’s outside of the plan or routine.

But on a “Yes Day,” I pause and consider and then try to say “yes” whenever possible.  I find that it has an enormous positive effect.  Mostly because it forces me to really listen, take his desires seriously, and then act on them.  Understandably, he then feels heard and considered and like he actually has some agency to make decisions in his life. Which then makes him more agreeable in general, and less prone to pushing limits and difficult behavior.   I find that we reconnect on “Yes Days” and get back into a groove of attunement with each other.


What are your tips, tricks and tools to get back to the love of parenting when you’re feeling low?

Please share your thoughts/anecdotes/musings about this topic below in the comments section.  We love hearing from you!


The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out episodes of our Emmy award winning series “Ruby’s Studio,”  along with our beautiful children’s booksmusic, and more.


This article was originally part of our series Mondays with the Mamas and was published June 15, 2014

Posted in: Parental Wisdom, Happiness, Mindfulness, The Mother Co. Mamas