‘Mindful Strengths Parenting' Is About to Change Your Whole Damn Life

little girl jumping on her parents bed

File this one under “Easiest Parenting Advice Ever.” That’s because you don’t actually have to do anything to follow it—other than shift the way you look at your kids.

At the heart of “mindful strengths parenting,” writes psychologist Ryan Niemiec, is something called “positive reframing.”

It simply means looking at your child’s behavior and taking a moment (and a deep breath) to interpret it in a different, more positive way. 

“When you get upset with your child for their behavior, pause and consider a positive reframe. What character strengths might they be using?” he writes. “Sometimes reframing involves replacing only one word in your thought process.”

For example, your son is not “stubborn.” He is “determined.” Your daughter is not “wild.” She’s “exuberant and joyful.” Your kindergartener is not “clingy.” He is “sensitive and loving.” 

Before we project our greatest fears and insecurities onto little, still-developing people, experts like Niemiec encourage parents to take a moment to ask ourselves if our own issues are driving us to view their natural ways as something that requires correction. Are we saying “No!” more than we need to?

little boy playing with a pink tutu

He’s not suggesting you blind yourself to your kids’ mistakes or reframe every transgression as a triumph. (“Oh, my son just set fire to the couch? He’s so curious!”)  Rather, he writes: “I’m encouraging a more balanced approach to our parenting—one that does not fall into a deficit-only, problem-focused approach.”

So try looking at the glass as half full. Even the one that’s full of chocolate milk that just got spilled down your shirt.