The positive parenting technique aims to increase positive psychosocial wellbeing for children and  teenagers by fostering protective factors and building healthier relationships. Positive parenting provides long term solutions to ensure that positive outcomes continue across the life span. With all this in mind, how does the method serve other cultures?

The Approach

Positive parenting is aimed at family members, adoptive and biological parents, carers, lone and step parents and any other person that may have a duty of care to a child/teenager. Positive parenting techniques aim to support parents in fostering positive development in children. One aspect of positive parenting is discipline, and is often the reason parents seek out the parenting approach. Godfrey (2019) purports that the approach, which is based on Positive Psychology, teaches discipline in a way that enriches the child’s self esteem, in turn, it fosters a mutually respectful parent-child relationship.

The main aims of Positive Parenting are

  • Self-sufficiency of parents so that they can parent with little support
  • Self efficacy when difficulties arise in the parent-child dynamic
  • Self management tools that enable parents to reassess and change their parenting techniques.
  • Personal agency allowing parents to learn to ‘own’ the improvements in situations.
  • Problem solving skills development, so that parents can define problems and work towards a planning and executing parenting methods.

How does this fare against non-Westernised parenting techniques?

Parenthood comes with many challenges. These difficulties may be confounded for Black Asian and Minority ethnic parents due to structural disadvantages and cultural differences (Nomaguchi and House, 2013). Many Black Asian and Minority ethnic parents, whether anecdotally or otherwise, will agree that there are some distinct differences between their own traditional methods of parenting and white and/or Westernised parenting techniques. Often discipline is a key element in these conversations.

Often when going through the literature of parenting and parent-child interactions, Western ideals are seen as the norm with little to no attention paid towards cultural context, particularly for BAME parents and carers. The positive parenting approach uses methods that aim to produce long term parenting solutions. If we use the example of a typically developing toddler having a melt-down in the store in order to go home and play, a carer may use the short term solution of buying the child sweets so that he/she can continue shopping in piece and end the meltdown. This short term solution does not help the child understand why he/she needs to go shopping or help the child understand how those around him/her feel. The child may instead learn to use melt downs as their only form of communication, when trying to get what they want.

What techniques such as this often omit is that reasoning behind some disciplinary practices may appear short-term but are actually protective factors for the future, and a long term solution. Due to a lack of familiarity with these cultures, many practitioners may find it difficult to empathise leaving parents feeling dismissed. For example, a parent who verbally reprimands his/her daughter for a melt down in a shop, may be told that this is a short term solution, however, the parent may feel that this response is a protective factor against future outbursts, which have far more negative consequences, particularly for BAME. Similarly, we cannot  assume that all cultures share age appropriate expectations. It is important that as practitioners we arm ourselves with knowledge from parents, ensure they feel heard and collaboratively work toward solutions.  So, what can practitioners working cross-culturally and BAME parents take into account, during this collaboration?

Sanders (2008) suggests that although it is important that we tap into cultural, linguistic and religious sensitivities, shared aspects of parenting do exist. He states that, when forming any programme, the following key principles should form the basis. Addressing these would lead to positive mental health and developmental outcomes.

Safe and Engaging Environment

Children need a safe and protective environment that allows them to play, and explore.

Positive Learning Environment

Create a positive learning environment where interactions are positive and constructive, particularly when these are initiated but he child. Assist children with engaging in independent learning and problem solving.

Assertive Discipline

Select ground rules for specific situations, and discuss rules with children. Instructions should be clear, calm and age appropriate. Consequences should be logical.

Realistic Expectation

Parental expectations, assumptions and beliefs should be explored. Their reasoning for the cause of the child’s behaviour should also be explored.  From there, appropriate and realistic goals can be chosen, by the parent.

Parental Self Care

The approach encourages parents to view their parenting in the wider context of self-care, resourcefulness and well being. This encourages parents to prioritise their needs as well as the needs of their children.