How To Support Your Child Through Positive Parenting

Note: When referring to a child in this post I have used the masculine form (referring to the child as a male).


Intelligence in a child is something that parents can help foster. There are many studies that suggest the right surroundings - along with certain learning tools - make any child smarter. In fact, you may already be encouraging your child to engage in activities that nurture his or her brain power and not even know it. If you have your child participate in thinking games like puzzles, chess, checkers and word or number problem games, then you’re already heading in the right direction. However, there’s something that you can do that can help give your child an even greater brain boost. The secret is to have a parenting style that focuses on the positive. A positive parenting environment makes it easier for your child to learn and grow in intelligence.

Positive Parenting and the Hippocampus

Much has been said about being positive versus being negative. You know that being positive helps deal with stress and makes life seem a little easier. Taking those positive behaviors and actions into parenting can create a world of difference for your child, starting with his hippocampus.

You may not have even heard of it. The hippocampus isn’t very big or even that well known to many parents. This tiny section inside the brain, however, has a very big job to do. The hippocampus is located on both sides of the brain and is an important factor in the development of a child’s intelligence. How large or small a child’s hippocampus is has a direct relation to how well his home life is. That’s where you, as the parent can really make a big difference in your child’s life.

Giving a child a home environment where there is plenty of love is crucial to how your child will learn to develop his intelligence. When a child has an abundance of love and positive parenting, he feels free to explore his world and learn new things. Not only does he feel safe enough to explore, but he recognizes that it’s encouraged by you.

Studies that have been done on the hippocampus performed at the Washington University School of Medicine shows that children who experience a loving, positive parenting environment have a hippocampus that’s greater in size than children who don’t have this benefit. Other studies conducted on the link between positive parenting and the hippocampus found that when children were exposed to positive parenting, they in turn would become more caring and more emotionally giving than children who didn’t have the benefit of this type of parenting.

The main reason the hippocampus is so important is because this is the part of the brain that lets children expand their intelligence level. The hippocampus is what allows the child to learn things. It’s also the part of the brain that allows the child to retain what he has learned. Positive parenting is important to a child’s hippocampus because negative parenting can change a child’s brain chemistry. Negative parenting background short circuits a child’s ability to do well from childhood and on up into adulthood.

Positive Parenting and Body Language

Have you ever been in a situation where someone said everything was fine but you could tell by the look on his or face that it clearly wasn’t fine? Maybe it had something to do with another person or maybe it was directed at you. Regardless of who the negative body language was directed at, what you remember is that you were uncomfortable. It might have even stressed you out. This is what happens to a child when the body language of a parent is not positive. If you’re trying to teach your child something or you’re interacting with him, he’s going to be paying attention to what your body language is saying.

Positive parenting includes remembering to use body language to help your child feel nurtured. If you want your child to do something because you want him to learn, but your body language is one of impatience and irritation, then your child will become stressed out. This completely negates the learning experience. For example, in one study, children could see a wrapped package and were instructed to wait for eight minutes. If they waited these eight minutes, then after that, they could have the gift. While the children were waiting, the parent had to fill out a stack of paperwork. Since the kids were younger children - ranging from four to seven - waiting was difficult for them and they behaved just like you would expect children to do. They pleaded for the gift and tried to get it.  Some of the parental figures involved in this study reassured their children with positive words or touch. But other parents didn’t respond positively. In fact, they either didn’t react at all to their children’s actions and words or they responded with negativity. The children who were treated with positivity and comfort waited the full eight minutes and were able to keep the gift while the majority of the other children who were ignored or treated with negativity ended up opening the gift before the time was up. 

Sometimes, when a child wants something, a parent will wave a hand impatiently and won’t even take the time to hear the child out. This teaches the child to believe that what he needs is not important and it doesn’t give him the reassurance that every child not only needs but deserves as well.

How you respond to your child with your body language affects how well your child can perform in life. What you might not realize is that your body language can change the makeup of your child’s brain chemistry. When a child is in an environment where there’s positive parenting, his brain is being encouraged in the development of healthy chemicals.  On the other hand, when a child is subject to negative parenting, his brain produces stress chemicals. Whenever a child has an influx of stress chemicals, it can affect many areas of his life - particularly in the area of learning. Being subject to the stress chemicals (that can be traced back to negative parenting), a child can also experience problems with moods such as anxiety or depression. He may also begin to exhibit problems with the way that he behaves. Many times when a child begins to act out, it’s as a direct result of the way his brain is processing the parenting.

Whenever you spend time with your child, make it a point to use the kind of body language that’s part of positive parenting. It can make a difference in how your child learns and behaves.

Overall, your child will become more focused, adapt to learning environments faster and interact better with others. Another perk for your child when you use positive parenting and positive body language is your child will develop a greater level of self-esteem which is huge in today's society. 

Positive Parenting Benefits Your Child’s Emotional State

As parents, it can be all too easy to let the stress we deal with leak over into how we parent our children. When children clue in to their parents’ stress (and kids pick up whatever stress is going on) it can, in turn, make them stressed. It’s bad enough dealing with this as a parent, but for a child, this stress can causes changes in the brain and can alter the ability to learn.

At a young age, children learn behavioral techniques from their environment. If they live in the type of environment where they have to look out for themselves, then they learn that the world is not kind. They believe that they’re the only ones who can look out for themselves. As a result of this, they can develop anxiety and take on the air of always watching their own back. This development, in turn, makes them not learn as well as other children do.

When a child is not subject to the benefit of positive parenting, they tend to score lower on tests when in school. Their attention span is not as great as that of their peers and they don’t pick up on new skills as easily as other children.  More often than not, their social skills are not at the same level as that of other kids their age. Mainly, the emotional well being of a child can benefit from positive parenting as soon as he is born.

With reassuring hugs, singing to the baby and making sure his needs are met you are establishing a healthy emotional state for him early on. Kids learn their behavior from the time that they’re born because they learn their behavior from the way that you parent.

If you spend the time supporting your child’s positive behavior with a positive response in return, you help create happier, more intelligent children. On the other hand, if you don’t give your child the reinforcement for positive behavior, then your child will learn to use negative actions and words to get what he needs or wants from you.

The Long Term Effects of Positive Parenting

A study done by a psychologist at Oregon State University had some surprising results about the long term effects of positive parenting. The results revealed that kids who are raised with a positive parenting approach will in turn raise children in a more nurturing environment.

The study also showed that in families where negative parenting was used to raise children, the negative parenting cycle continued. This cycle continued because negative parenting can cause negative behaviors in children from the time they’re small. This can lead to children who will not only act out but will often engage in activities that puts him or her at risk for entering the juvenile court system. This is because children learn their coping skills through either negative or positive parenting.

An example of negative parenting would be the parent who lashes out at a child in anger. In return, the child learns that this is the way he’s to handle anything that he has to deal with as well. When he runs into a problem as school, he’ll react with anger or aggressive behavior. Or, instead of reacting with anger, some parents don’t react at all. They choose to blow off whatever is going on in their child’s life. This is an apathy style of negative parenting. When you don’t teach and instruct your child through positive parenting, he will pick up what he needs to make it through life from others. This is one of the reasons that gangs or hanging out with groups of their peers holds such an allure for kids of all ages. They’re looking for that acceptance and for someone to pay attention to them that they don't get at home.

Not being consistent in your parenting style can also lead to negative results with raising children. If something is okay one minute and your child gets away with it but the next time he does it, you react in anger and punish the child, then he learns that you’re inconsistent and the rules don’t always apply.

It is important to stay away from these negative parenting styles and focus on being a positive parent. Positive parenting always creates a welcoming, loving environment for child. In this type of home life, the child is allowed to be who he or she is within the safety of parameters set by the parent. This type of parent is also the kind that is engaged in the child’s life. They know what’s going on with the child’s schoolwork, who his friends are, what his interests are and what he’d like to do in life. In other words, they pay attention. Children who experienced positive parenting grew up in homes where the rules didn’t change. They also had parents that openly expressed their love for the child and were more likely to hug the child or otherwise show love.

Kids benefit from positive parenting by doing better in school, getting along better with their peers and having happier moods. Studies showed that children who were raised with positive parenting experienced far less diagnoses of depression than children who were raised in homes where negative parenting styles are used.

A final long term benefit of positive parenting is that kids are able to better connect with others once they become adults themselves. This is important since our job, as a parent, is to ready our children for adulthood and watch them grow into beautiful human beings. 

Positive Parenting and Discipline

One of the things that many parents want to know about positive parenting is what this means in the area of discipline. Positive parenting is not the absence of disciplining. The problem is that the word discipline has been wrongly defined over the years. What the word actually means is “to instruct” or “to teach.” Positive parenting is a way of guiding children so that they learn responsibility rather than using punishment as a form of discipline.

This means that as a parent, you have to have a lot of patience and compassion when your child doesn’t grasp the effects of his behavior, and you teach him what you expect. It also helps children understand the ways that he can behave when he makes a choice to misbehave. You teach the child better options. Positive parenting uses methods to help motivate a child so that he wants to behave.

If you have a child who acts out and doesn’t seem to care what you think or what you’re trying to teach, if it’s not a very young child, it could be that something is not right with your relationship with the child. There might be an emotional wound in the child’s heart from a word harshly spoken or because he doesn’t feel your love the way that he needs to. If you start from infancy with a positive parenting approach, it will benefit your child as he grows.

I hope this article has taught you a lot about positive parenting and why it is such a huge benefit in your child's life. Positive parenting can help your child mentally, physically, and emotionally. When in doubt, be a positive parent and know that your child should always come first.