With more than one million Facebook followers for her Positive Parenting online community, Rebecca Eanes has become a trusted voice among parents who are looking for a better way hoping to dial down the drama, frustration, stress and resentment that's all too common in our hectic times. This inspiring and inviting guide walks readers through the process of charting a new path, toward greater emotional awareness, clear communication, and even joyful moments in parenting (remember those?).
Filled with encouraging prompts and plenty of room to record your progress, this is a much-needed addition to the positive parenting shelf and a companion to some of the most popular parenting guides on the market.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
In 2005, I received a late Christmas gift, the best Christmas gift there could ever be. It was December 26. The gifts from the day before still needed to be sorted and put away. The lights still twinkled on the tree. My feet were bare and cold on the bathroom floor, and my hands were shaking as I held a digital pregnancy test, watching the hourglass spinning round and round. When it stopped, my life was forever changed.
I spent the next forty weeks talking, singing, and reading to the baby growing inside me. As I read the book Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney, I would rub my tummy in circles and pat whatever little body part poked up. I didn’t exactly know who was growing in there, but— h!— ow I loved him so. I prepared a beautiful nursery, which he never used but which was symbolic for welcoming into our lives a new family member. His name was on the wall. He had a place here already. He belonged.
He was placed in my arms in September, the most beautiful and perfect little boy I’d ever seen. The following two years were nothing short of magical. We played peekaboo and watched Thomas & Friends. I clapped when he learned to roll over, to sit up, to crawl, walk, and run. I marveled at each new word he spoke. We were completely and beautifully connected, this little boy and I. In his eyes, I saw trust.
We welcomed another son twenty- six months after the first had arrived, and I was once again totally and completely in love. I thought we’d carry on our days in perfect harmony until they went off to college in the very distant future. But no. Slowly, things began to change.
My firstborn, struggling with this overwhelming change in his life, began acting in ways I’d never seen him act. Back then, I called it defiant. I now recognize it as disconnected. In order to get a handle on this defiant toddler, I began putting him in a time- out. I thought this was simply the way of things. It didn’t feel good, but it was just how it had to be, I thought.
Eventually, the days turned from being filled with playfulness, joy, and laughter to being filled with tears and time-outs. His behavior only worsened during that time. I tried all the tricks. Counting to three. Behavior charts. Nothing made things better. In fact, every time I put him in that little green chair at the end of the hallway, separated from me as I held his baby brother in my arms, he seemed to break just a little more.
I just wanted to teach him, not break him.
One day, when I saw him sitting there, eyes downcast, chin quivering, tears rolling down his still-baby cheeks, I stopped cold. Suddenly my eyes were opened to what I was doing, to his grief, to his loss and to mine. I looked into his eyes, and I no longer saw trust there. I saw sadness. My little boy no longer trusted his mommy. Not completely. Not like he had before. Traditional discipline had driven a wedge between our hearts.
My son wasn’t defiant. He’d had his world turned upside down, and he didn’t know how to cope. I was the center of his world, and suddenly at least half of my attention, if not most of it, was going to a little baby he’d never asked for. He felt strong emotions, and he couldn’t process them. He couldn’t explain them. All he could do was feel, and it felt really bad. Bad feelings drive bad behavior, which I then punished him for, compounding his bad feelings. It is such a messy cycle, but it’s possible to get out of it.
When I finally understood that what he needed wasn’t punishment but to simply feel connected to me like he used to, I completely changed my approach. I trashed the green chair and brought him into my lap. I held him and read him books. We colored together. We hugged stuffed animals and talked about better ways to deal with frustration, anger, fear, and sadness. I told him I loved him just as much as I always had, and that my love for him would never, ever change.
The brokenness was healed.
We built block towers and forts. We painted with our feet. We had water balloon fights. We danced. We sang. The trust returned to his eyes. He and his brother became best friends. There was laughter again. There was joy. There was connection.
A strong emotional connection is the heart of joyful family living. Did you know that early attachment relationships shape a child’s development? Your level of emotional connection with your child is a key factor in his or her own emotional development, creativity, resilience, school success, self- steem, and behavior. In your romantic relationship, emotional connection is the glue that will hold you together through the trials of life and parenthood. Your own emotional health is vital to your well-being and your ability to show up day after day and give it your best. Each of these three vital areas has a big impact on how children are shaped, and this book addresses all of them.
In 2016, I published a book titled Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide. This workbook makes a terrific companion to it, and the chapter outline is roughly the same, so they go hand in hand. However, you don’t have to own Positive Parenting to benefit from this book; The Positive Parenting Workbook can stand alone.
This workbook is going to lead you on a journey to a happier, better connected, more joyful life. There will be some bumps along the way, and the road might get steep at times, but I know you can do this. There are so many books out there that give you a formula for raising kids without taking into account your story, your uniqueness, and your one‑of‑a‑kind child. I’m not trying to sell you a formula. My hope is to clear enough space in these pages for you to tap into your intuition and find your own voice; because everything in this book is pointing you toward what is already stirring in your heart—your desire to feel connected, joyful, and peaceful—I believe you’ll feel the weight begin to lift by the end of chapter one.
May love reign in the walls of your home and in the hearts of all who reside within them.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Positive Parenting 101 1
Chapter 2 Looking Within First 19
Chapter 3 Getting on the Same Parenting Page 38
Chapter 4 Communicating for Connection 57
Chapter 5 Building a Foundation of Trust with Your Child 70
Chapter 6 Defining Your Family Culture 79
Chapter 7 Seeing Problem Behavior in a New Way 99
Chapter 8 Raising Emotionally Healthy Children 113
Chapter 9 Trading Punishment for Solutions 126
Chapter 10 Top Parenting Challenges-And How to Use Proactive Parenting to Deal with Them 140
Recommendations for Further Reading 163
About the Author 165