Path to Positivity – Soft Heart, Firm Limits

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring.  It is an active noun like struggle. 
To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, here and now.”   -Mr. Rogers

What is “Positive Parenting?”

Positive parenting is disciplining in a way that’s full of respect and nurturing while maintaining clear and consistent boundaries; It’s setting limits while still being emotionally attuned to our kids;  It’s being generous with our love and firm in our boundaries; Soft heart, firm limits.

Why Positive Parenting?

Studies consistently show that using positive discipline yields better outcomes in terms of the child’s behavior, emotional growth, academic performance and mental health.

Three Main Principles of Positive Parenting:

Regulating our emotions as parents

“Downstairs” and “Upstairs” Brain Science
-Know your “triggers” (when it’s hard to be the best version of yourself)

Use both short-term and long-term tools to shift from reactive to responsive

Connecting with your child (both when they are at their worst and in the day-to-day)

park play

Why connect? Connecting calms the brain, builds the brain and strengthens our relationship with our child

Children crave belonging (feeling emotionally connected to loved ones) and feeling significant (believing he/she can make a difference in a family by offering meaningful contributions)

Create cooperation with connection

Get down on their level

Make loving eye contact

Put your hand on your child’s shoulder before talking to them

Get curious about what they are doing

Once you have “connected” then move forward with your request

Fill up your child’s “Love Tank” (see handout for additional ideas)

“Special Time” 10 minutes a day, one-on-one with each parent

Build small connection rituals into the daily routine

12 hugs a day

Maintain 5 positive interaction for every negative one

Evenings are family time, tech-free

Empathic limit setting and intentional teaching. Let go of two big myths (1) that you can control your child and (2) that punishments work. Research suggests that children who are punished (including with timeouts and consequences) exhibit more bad behavior, not less. Make the commitment to no spanking, yelling, timeouts or parent contrived consequences. Give a boundary and then validate his feelings/experience (love him through his upset)What lesson do I want to teach in this moment? (sharing, acting responsibly, self-control?)


Describe what you see or hear: “It looks like you’re frustrated with your lego set.”

Set a limit: “We do not throw toys when we are frustrated.”

Offer another option: “Can you use your words to ask for help?”

Describe what you see or hear: “You are still throwing toys.”

Set a limit: “It’s OK to be mad, but we do not throw toys.”

Give a boundary: “It looks like the legos will need to be put away for now.”

Empathize: “You don’t like that the legos are put away.”

Set a limit: “You can be angry, but I’m not going to let you hit me.  Hitting hurts.”

Focus on the connection: “Do you want to sit with me for a few minutes before you find something else to do?”

Community Programs

Docs in the Park Reach out and Read Girls on the Run United Way of Frederick Maryland Interagency Early Childhood Committee Mental Health Association LiveWell Frederick Family Resource, Information & Education Network for Down Syndrome