Positve Parenting


This blog reviews evidence-based information developed by the Child and Family Center

at the University of Oregon. It outlines parenting skills important to helping families prevent

adolescent substance abuse. The full publication is available at the National Institute on Drug Abuse at : Click to see Publication

Communication: Good communication is a foundation for solid family relationships.

When communication skills are present “parents catch problems early, support positive behavior,

and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.” Before you begin a discussion

with your child:

■ Set aside a good time to talk, free of distractions

■ Prepare a plan on what you want to discus and say

■ Gather your thoughts beforehand

■ Stay calm and patient

■ Limit distractions such as TV, radio and cell phones

■ Set a timeframe for the discussion


Also, use a CALM approach. This involves Controlling your thoughts and actions, Assess and decide if you are too upset to continue, Leave the situation if you feel angry or upset, and Make a plan to deal with the situation.

            Other tips include (1) being present and tuned in, (2) show understanding, (3) listen with respect, (4) remain engaged, (5) avoid negative emotions and (6) give encouragement.

            Encouragement: This helps build confidence and a sense of self. It also promotes cooperation and reduces conflict. You may remember someone who encouraged you during your youth and how important that person was to you. When we feel encouraged, we feel good about ourselves. But discouraging statements can knock us down. Examples of discouraging statements include: Being sarcastic or negative about a child’s ability, comparing a child to others such as their siblings or friends, taking over when a child’s progress is slow, and reminding a child of past failures.

Here are some examples of encouraging phrases: I know that wasn’t easy, you did such an awesome job, keep on trying, you are very good at that, you are learning a lot, I like the way you did that, and I can tell you’ve been practicing.

            When you encourage your child you send three messages to them: (1) you can do it, (2) you have good ideas, and (3) you are important. Encourage your child. Your encouragement can make a difference.

Negotiation: When you negotiate with your child you work together to solve problems and make changes. Negotiation can also improve cooperation. Here are some steps to problem solve:

         Brainstorm: Be open to all options. Each person should try to come up with three ideas and take turns explaining the options.

            Evaluate the ideas: List the advantages and disadvantages of each idea .

            Choose a solution: You can combine ideas and its important that all parties agree on a solution.

            Follow up: Check in with each other after you have tried a solution to see how its working. If it isn’t working, go back to the list of ideas or start over with more brainstorming.

Avoid “traps”. These include (1) trying to solve hot issues, (2) blaming each other or putting the other person down, (3) don’t make assumptions about the other person’s intentions, (4) don’t defend yourself, just let it go, (5) don’t bring up the past and avoid using words like “always” and “never.” (6) don’t lecture – a simple statement will get your point across better.

            Setting Limits.  When you set limits, you teach self-control and responsibility. You show you care and set boundaries. When you set rules you should (1) make them clear and specific, (2) make sure your child clearly understands the rule, (3) identify consequences for not following the rules, and (4) follow through.

            Consequences and rewards are important. Often parents focus on the consequences. In other words, “If you continue to do this, such and such will happen.” Consequences are important but so is encouragement and rewards.

            When working with teens who abused alcohol or drugs I found that parents tended to focus on the negative consequences. In other words, punishments. They often ignored the rewards side. Certainly, negative consequences are important to enforce rules. But rewards can be a powerful motivator to sustain abstinence.

When it comes to consequences you can use the SANE approach:

            ■ Small consequences are usually better

            ■ Avoid consequences that punish your child

            ■ Non-abusive responses

            ■ Effective consequences. These are consequences under your control and are non-rewarding to your child.

            Supervision: Supervision is an important aspect of parenting. It helps you recognize potential problems and keeps you involved. Use the 4 Cs of supervision as a cornerstone to your involvement:

          ■ Clear rules. Have a few very clearly stated rules. For example, “no friends riding in the care” or “give me a phone number for any place you will be.”

            ■ Communication. Keep in touch with other parents and your child’s teachers. This keeps you involved in your child’s activities and creates resources to deal with problems.

            ■ Check up. Checking up on your child lets them know care and that your rules are important.

            ■ Consistency. Effective supervision requires setting limits and following through with consequences. It’s also important to give praise and rewards when rules are followed.

Knowing your child’s friends: When you know your child’s friends it helps improve communication, reduces conflicts and teaches responsibility You can increase your influence by (1) knowing your child’s friends in the neighborhood and at school, (2) staying involved in your child’s activities, and (3) talking to your child when a concern comes up. You can also help your child understand what qualities they should look for in friends. These can include honesty, school involvement, and respect.

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