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Active Parenting Defined

Parenting and Child Care

Active parenting is a method of parenting made popular by a psychotherapist named Dr. Michael H. Popkin. Popkin founded Active Parenting Publishers in 1985 to promote positive parenting using methods based on Adlerian psychology. Adlerian psychology provides a framework for active parenting and provides methods that parents can use with both young children and teens.

What is Active Parenting

Active parenting involves using skills derived from certain fundamental principles. Active parents believe that behavior should be goal directed. This means that a person practicing active parenting is not simply trying to make their kids behave for the sake of behaving, as some authoritarian parents do. Instead, active parenting involves setting goals for your children to achieve and creating standards of behavior within those goals. Those goals can be as simple as a goal to be polite, or as complex as a goal to get into a good college. Behaviors that lead toward the goal are encouraged and rewarded while behaviors that detract from the goal are discouraged.

Active parenting is also based on the principle that social interactions between parents and children are the defining elements of the parent/child relationship. Thus, active parents are encouraged to think about how they behave towards their children, and what effect that behavior will have. Active parents should treat their children with respect and ultimately focus on strengthening the relationship with every interaction. The principle of mutual respect that is involved in active parenting also dictates the structure of parent/child interactions and supports the belief that interactions should be positively focused.

The idea that you must walk in the shoes of others is also an essential principle associated with active parenting. This means parents are encouraged to think about things from their child’s point of view and consider where their children are coming from. Parents should ask probing questions and attempt to identify why a child is doing a certain behavior, rather than just reacting to negative behavior.

Additional principles include an understanding that nature and nurture both play a role in child development, but that personal responsibility also plays a role. Since active parenting takes a holistic view toward the child, all aspects of why a child behaves a certain way must be considered and accounted for. Since Alderian psychology is a psychology of use, the focus is on using what you have- your existing parenting abilities and your child’s existing capabilities- rather than wishing you had different tools at your disposal.

How to Employ Active Parenting

You can employ active parenting by focusing on cognitive behavioral changes. Reward positive behave and discuss and determine the reasons for negative behavior. This does not mean negative behaviors don’t have consequences; instead, it means that consequences are considered and handed out in light of the whole child and the structure of the parent/child relationship. Active parenting is an integrative method of child rearing that aims to help parents take an authoritative approach to parenting.

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