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You need rest, food, clothes, water to feel loved and safe.

Purposeful parenting is an idea of how to raise children and to interact with them. I should probably recuse myself from this discussion as I do not have any human children, only many felines over the years, but I do have a degree in elementary education and know a little bit about child development. From what I see of this purposeful parenting it seems that this would be very good for children.

Purposeful parenting involves what is called the six Ps. They are protective, personal, progressive, positive, playful, and purposeful. These are the tenets of this parenting philosophy and are the way you apply this way of dealing with kids.

The first is protective. This is pretty simple. Protecting children’s physical and mental health and tending to their basic needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and safety. This also means no physical punishments. I grew up in the era of corporal punishment for children so this is a bit new for me but I do know that for years now they have been saying that corporal punishment does not actually teach anything and can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. A trauma history can also lead to other mental health issues as an adult, such as Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD primarily manifests in relationship patterns that are negative.

Personal means to have a strong personal relationship with your child. To be kind and gentle. It does not mean to let them get away with whatever they want, because part of being in relationship with someone is setting boundaries, but that does not mean you have to do it by being verbally abusive and cussing a child out of insulting them. You can be firm without being cruel.

Progressive means that you adapt your parenting as your child changes and grows. A baby does not require the same parenting as a four year old. And a four year old certainly does not require the same parenting as a twelve year old. You and your children need to evolve, or progress, your relationship through their different developmental stages as their comprehension and needs change.

The principle of positivity does not mean to look at everything your child does with rose colored glasses. However, a recommendation is to try to catch your child doing something right and offer positive reinforcement instead of always just looking to mete out punishments. Another thing to remember is that you can love your child even if you do not love what they are doing. Nobody is perfect, but you can still have a positive attitude about a person while not thinking all of their behaviors are correct.

Playful is probably the most fun of the principles all around. Mr. Rogers said that play is the work of childhood, and it is true that children love to play. The playful of purposeful parenting means that playing with your child can be an educational experience for them and children will enjoy seeing your playful side. While playing games or doing crafts, you can use the opportunity to educate your child in some way. Think of all the things we learned while playing as children, or all the ways adults tried to disguise learning as play. Even turning the alphabet into the famous ABC song is a way to turn learning into play at the same time.

Finally is purposeful. This is to keep your goals in mind. People recommend keeping a notebook or other kind of log to keep a record of what your parenting goals are. The other side of purposeful is to identify and consider what the purpose of a child’s apparently inappropriate behavior is. What is your child trying to communicate by acting out? What need are they trying to meet? You want to raise a happy, successful, whole, and healthy child, mentally and physically. A child who is able to contribute to society in their fullest capacity possible. This applies whatever your child’s level of innate ability is.

It is also important to remember that in order to do any of these things, you also have to remember to tend to your own needs. Your hierarchy needs to be tended to. You need rest, food, clothes, water, and to feel loved and safe in as much as that is possible in order to give. As they say, you cannot give away what you do not have. Tend to your own needs, that is not selfish. Think of it as if you were on an airplane. They always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting the person with whom you are flying who cannot put one on for themselves. Same idea.

By Julie Morse

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