Step 2 of Positive Parenting: Have a Positive Learning Environment
Do you have a child between the ages of 2 and 12? The Triple P Program is a tool for parents looking for fresh, positive ideas on everything from potty training to coping with stress.
Triple P doesn’t tell you how to parent; it simply provides strategies that you can adapt to your unique situation. Last week, we discussed the first step to Positive Parenting: Create a safe, interesting environment. The second staple of the Positive Parenting Program is: Have a positive learning environment.
Children are sponges for information, using every opportunity to learn something further about their world. Even when you don’t think your child is paying attention, be assured that they are! Babies learn about their world by manipulating toys in their hands and mouthing any nearby objects they can get their hands on; Toddlers use their bodies to learn through play and asking a million questions a day.
Between answering questions about why cats have whiskers to responding to the 20th request of the day for snacks, let’s face it: As parents, it’s easy and normal to feel burnt out and not give it our all 100% of the time.
But it’s still important that, as parents, our children feel that they can come to us with their questions, ideas, or just when they need some extra attention. When your child comes to you for help or to talk, they’re ready to learn. Give them positive attention, even if only for a minute or so.
Ways To Create A Positive Learning Environment
Monkey See, Monkey Do
You’ve no doubt heard the expression “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” If you want your child to use their “kind words” when requesting a snack, they need to also observe you using the same type of language. Or, say, for instance, you want your older child to spend more time reading and less time playing video games, be mindful or your own screen time habits and find time together as a family to read. As parents, you are your child’s first teacher: Model the behavior and traits you want to see in your own child, and find opportunities throughout your day to teach your child about the world around you, including:
- Go on nature hunts in your neighborhood, collecting a variety of leaves, flowers, rocks, etc.
- Use grocery store trips or car rides to point out words you see. For younger children, narrate as you go through the store, naming and describing what you see.
- Explore the library and pick out new books.
Creativity Is Key
Art offers children the chance to explore their own identity, develop thoughts, feelings, and opinions, as well as just have fun. Having outlets in your home to get creative is a great way to support a positive learning environment.
It’s never too soon to incorporate creativity and the arts into your child’s life. It could start with singing a lullaby to your newborn, then move on to finger paints with your toddler, and eventually a song and dance routine with your elementary-age child! The beauty of getting creative with your child is that there are so many fun—and inexpensive—ways to do it:
- Use household items to play dress up, such as bed sheets for superhero capes.
- Make a collage out of nature items found in your backyard.
- Use a cardboard box and stuffed animals to come up with a puppet show.
- Remember good, old fashioned blank paper and crayons!
If you want your child to harness the power of their expressive side, accessibility is the name of the game. In the home, have washable markers, crayons and paints, as well as paper out, where your older child can get to them easily. It can make your job easier if you have a corner where these are set out for ready use. If your child wants to take dance classes or learn to play an instrument, be open to the idea and start by asking a studio if you can sit and observe a class in-progress to see if it’s a good fit for your child.
Help Develop Healthy Self-Esteem
If you were told over and over again that your paintings weren’t very good, would you want to continue painting? Probably not.
Children are sensitive, and prone to giving up easily when things are tough or they think they are not good at it. A lack of praise, affection, or attention can cause a child to have low self-esteem. But a child who receives plenty of praise and encouragement is going to feel good about themselves. Praise the effort, not the product, “You are working really hard on that painting; tell me about it.”
Let’s say your toddler excitedly calls you over to look at their painting of a cat. All you see is giant blobs of paint, so soaked that the paper is ripping and paint is running onto the table. Beaming, your child is watching you for your response.
Before you complain that they used too much paint or made a big mess, stop yourself and first praise them for their efforts and what they did well: “I love how you incorporated so many colors into your painting.” Then, using kind words, help them with the mess. “It looks like your paper got soggy in some areas. Let’s clean up together, and then I can show you how to use just the right amount of paint.”
Having a positive learning environment also includes encouraging your child to express their ideas and emotions. Listen to your child’s ideas, feelings, thoughts, and hopes without judgement. They need to know that you are their safety zone for unloading whatever is on their mind.
You can learn more about Triple P by going to LaneKids at www.lanekids.org
If you or your child are on Oregon Health Plan (OHP) through Trillium Community Health Plan, you can get Triple P Online for free by filling out the form below or at https://www.lanekids.org/triplep/. A staff person from Parenting Now! will send you an access code within 24 hours and you’ll be able to start using the program right away!
If you are not on OHP, you may purchase the program for $79.99. Please click here to visit the Triple P website.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org