Tools and Tips for Positive Parenting

In the main content of this topic and the additional resources you will see some background information about positive parenting. Here are some additional quick tips and tools that may be helpful to add to your kete to support your whānau with military life.

Whānau values

It is helpful for your children to know the values that guide your whānau. These may be shaped by your military lifestyle. Some questions that you could talk about as a whānau to reinforce your values are:

  • How important is it to connect with wider whānau?
  • When you are away from wider whānau or friends, who are the important people for your whānau wellbeing?
  • How do you each express your opinions
  • What happens when someone disagrees with someone else—how does this get resolved?
  • How will you respond to behavioural challenges or what might be thought of as ‘bad’ behaviour by some?
  • How do you celebrate together?
  • What value do you place on different kinds of education or skills?

This will help guide your children feel secure about what they can expect in their world at home.

Introducing our Parenting Videos: Raising Caring, Courageous Kids

Responding to behaviours 

Nigel Latta says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. When children are ‘acting out’ or presenting you with challenging behaviours there will be a cause or something driving these.

  • Before you respond to their behaviour take a moment to check
  • Are you calm and focused enough to respond safely?
  • Are you fatigued (easy to snap or let emotions take over if you are tired)?
  • Are the children overtired, hungry, sick or driven by other temporary factors you might want
  • to take into account?
  • Have you thought of a plan about how to respond? Is it a good plan, or is there another,
  • better plan?
  • Do you need any other support or information before you respond?
  • Can responding to the behaviour wait until you have a chance to defuse the incident?

It’s helpful to learn more about children’s brains and how what they think and feel results in behaviour.

As a micro guide for you these are useful tips:

  • Our brains are wired to respond to threats—while there are no sabre tooth tigers to be a threat nowadays many other things can be perceived as a threat by your child (e.g., they don’t understand what is asked of them, they feel unsafe because their routine has changed, they miss their special person – mum, dad, caregiver).
  • Threats will be responded to by either fighting (pushing back or resisting), fleeing (running away) or freezing (unable to do anything). (Threats are an easy tool to reach for as a parent, but be mindful they may trigger one of these responses when used by a parent as well. There are often more effective strategies.)
  • The way your child responds will have some difference based on their age – little children don’t have the words or even often awareness to tell you how they are feeling
  • If your child is responding in one of these ways you will first need to provide comfort and reassurance before you can communicate with them
  • Understanding emotions and how these appear, how they drive behaviours and how they can be managed will also help with your response to child behaviours. There is information about helping your child to understand and manage their emotions here: link
  • It’s often a good idea to enlist the help of others extended whānau or others outside the whānau

A word about communications 

Children are wired to focus on watching what you do rather than listening to what you say. They will copy behaviours you show them. This is called modelling. They will also learn by watching for your emotions, what your facial expressions are in different situations, watching your behaviours, watching how you interact with their siblings or others, and how you show care and love. Children will then learn these are the ways that people behave.

As humans 80% of our communication is non-verbal. It is delivered in the way we use our words, and also without using words. This is a helpful tool to keep in mind when we are with our children.

Positive communication with them can be through so many different ways

  • Play
  • Song
  • Hugs
  • Hobbies and crafts or arts
  • Sports
  • Teaching
  • Making Kai
  • Having Fun
  • Holidays and celebrations

There are many resources and helpful community resources for you to find out more about positive parenting. Links to some key places are in the Additional Resources link.

Meanwhile, if you are concerned about your child being distressed, seek professional help and support from your GP, school or other education organisation, or other trusted health professionals.