Using Positive Demands to Raise Happy Children

December 20, 2018
When it comes to raising children, few things are more counterproductive than authoritarianism and excessive demands. It's much better to use strategies that motivate children and teens and strengthen their self-esteem.

Using positive demands is characterized by the use of norms that guide children without suffocating them. This method is very different from other child-raising methods used in past decades.

In this day and age, seeing parents who are over demanding is, unfortunately, all too common. Many times, these parents don’t realize all of the pressure they make their children feel as a result. Furthermore, many of their demands don’t really have a solid basis.

What parents should strive for is just the opposite. Of course, limits and obligations do have their place. All of us must meet certain demands and obligations in order to live in society. 

However, it’s important to know how to transmit them. That’s why we should apply strategies such as using positive demands that allow children to do their best without feeling overly pressured.

The consequences of demanding too much of children

If we go too far with our demands, we do a great disservice to our children. In part, we limit their ability to enjoy such a wonderful time in their lives that’s so full of opportunity.

Excessive demands, and demands that are incorrectly imposed, can produce the following problems:

  • Dependence and an inability to make their own decisions.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Irritability, anxiety and aggression.
  • Emotional repression.
  • Fear of failure and taking risks.

How to implement positive demands

There are certain basic guidelines to consider when it comes to instilling responsibility in our children. Below are some of them:

1. Establishing a routine

Despite the fact that many people hate routines, they help to put our lives in order. Thanks to routines, our minds and our entire bodies become programmed to carry out certain functions at certain times.

Using Positive Demands to Raise Happy Children

This simple habit allows us to free space in our minds for more important issues. Instead of worrying about what each day will bring, children can already foresee daily tasks and activities.

It also allows children to know their responsibilities in each situation. For example, they’ll learn that, after dinner, it’s time to go to bed.

2. Give them your time

Strengthening the bond between parents and children is fundamental for many reasons. First of all, children achieve greater emotional balance. This leads to higher motivation, calm and consistency when it comes to going after their goals.

At the same time, they’ll see their parents as supportive and know they want what’s best. Instead of being authoritarian, we need to explain the reasons behind our demands. If we do, our children are likely to comply more willingly.

To make this happen, we need to give our children the attention they need. Reading bedtime stories, showing interest in their activities, playing with them during free time, staying open to dialogue… All of these are simple but fundamental actions.

“We should apply strategies such as using positive demands that allow children to do their best without feeling overly pressured.”

3. Recognize their achievements and advances

An important part of raising children with positive demands is recognizing when children meet them. 

While some will point out that “this is a child’s duty,” it’s also true that everyone appreciates being rewarded for their efforts. Even as adults working in exchange for money, we still appreciate being recognized for our hard work.

Giving children the recognition, or even rewards, that they’re due is extremely important. That way, they’ll see that you appreciate their actions as well as their abilities.

4. Limit your expectations

If there’s anything that’s the complete opposite of positive demands, it’s expecting our kids to be the best at everything. If, on top of this, we sign our children up for every activity we can think of, this only makes things worse.

Parents shouldn’t expect their parents to excel above everyone else. Rather, we should encourage our children to be the best version of themselves – and give their all, according to their abilities.

At the same time, it’s pointless to force them to take on a million different extracurricular activities. Most likely, they don’t enjoy a lot of those things, or they’re too difficult to handle.

Try to do just the opposite. Making positive demands has a lot to do with maximizing your children’s skills in the areas they’re passionate about. This means that your children get to decide what sport to compete in, what language to learn, what instrument to play, etc.

Using Positive Demands to Raise Happy Children

5. Don’t become permissive

After reading the above suggestions, you may wind up with the idea that you need to be too open and permissive. But the truth is, that’s not good either. From the time children are young, they need to learn that there are rules and demands they must obey. 

This is true during childhood and for the rest of their lives. Therefore, they must learn to respect these norms early on, but not feel as if this takes away from their freedom.

6. Allow your children to participate

Instead of telling your children to pick up their things “Because I said so,” allow them to make choices whenever possible. That way, your demands will sound much more pleasant and respectful.

For example, if you tell your child to “Sit down and do your homework,” you’re likely to meet resistance. Instead, say “Do you want to sit down and have a snack together while you do your homework? Or would you rather take a bath first?”

You’ll see how motivated your children feel upon acquiring more independence and freedom over their decisions.

As you can see, positive demands are perfectly applicable to everyday actions. Basically, it’s about replacing imposition with persuasion – of course, while maintaining authority and household rules and limits.