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How to raise happy children by being a happy parent

How to raise happy children by being a happy parent

Have you ever really listened to how you talk to your children? I mean really listened. Do it, do it now. It could be the most important thing you ever do for them.

Now think about how many positive things you’ve said and weighed it up against all the negative and nagging ones. Surprised?  I was.

It’s nearly 15 years since I took on the position of Mum, the most rewarding and amazing role I have ever stepped into. With each name change from Mummy to Mumma then Mum came learning curves, challenges and hindsight all which have shaped a mum style which I have finally fine-tuned and stuck with.

I’m by no means an expert and not saying how I do things is right, but it fits for our family and that’ll do for now.

As a positive parent, I try seeing things through my children’s eyes and speak to them as I would like to be spoken to myself.

The hindsight thing I mentioned, never under estimate that, it’s a gift as well as a curse but you’re never too old to stop learning and being a better person, a better parent.

We’ve all had the experience of hearing that Mum or Dad yell at their child, shaming them in public, scaring them and not giving them an opportunity to understand what they did wrong. How did that make you feel? Uncomfortable I bet, just think how that child felt.

how to raise happy children by being a happy parent


Sure, there are times when its a matter of life or death, flight or fight and you need a short sharp shock, but it’s how you act in the aftermath that determines the best response. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for life. How are we supposed to teach a child safety and respect if we don’t speak them positively and respectfully ourselves? I listened to how I spoke to my now teenager, it was shocking and sad. Don’t touch, don’t run, stop dawdling behind.

The revelation that I was being a negative parent came one day as we  walked home from preschool and a cat ran away from us, I commented that the cat mustn’t like people and my son’s response changed how I parented from that very moment on; “no Mummy, he probably saw your cross face and was scared.” Powerful words out of the mouths of babes.

I realised that not only was I verbally negative with my constant “no’s” and “don’ts” I looked negative, my face could tell a 1000 words,

so instead I did this;

Living Arrows at 18 months, capturing a photo of your child every week.

Walk don’t run

It’s a well know fact that you’re much better telling a child to “walk”  and “not run”, as their understanding is developing, they’re more likely to hear and follow the last word you say. So I started there. I gave positives in place of negatives.

Compliment don’t criticise 

Did you know for every 1 criticism it takes 10 positives to make a person feel better? For a child who’s self-esteem and self-worth is still in production and so delicate, this is more important than ever. You’re shaping an adult from the moment they’re born. The building blocks for future success in relationships, work and friendships start from the day they arrive. Tell them how amazing they are and they’ll believe it.


Smile, laugh, love

Empathy is the key to so much, it’s how we read situations and how we are accepted, if we can learn to know and understand how other people are feeling, then life is just that little bit nicer for everyone. Don’t assume it’s automatic, you need to experience empathy to show it. If your child is worried, scared or sad, acknowledge it. It might be nothing to you but to them it’s a big deal. Smile when they smile, laugh when they laugh, love when they need love. Always acknowledge and value their emotions.

I’m still learning, I still have days when I realise I’ve let opportunities for a complimentary pass and gone straight for the telling off, but tomorrow’s another day.

It’s never too late to be that parent you aspire to be.

Don’t be the parent yelling in the park.

keep positive and keep your humour, positive parenting reaps rewards. positive parenting quotes by mum in nutshell

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  1. 20th April 2015 / 8:10 am

    You are so right! Ive had a bit longer 33 abd 29 years lol i hope ive been a positive parent i know ive tried lol

    • 20th April 2015 / 8:15 am

      I think trying is just as important.There’s always room for improvement.

  2. 20th April 2015 / 9:05 am

    Love this fabulous post hon! I have a similar one in draft that I’ll be publishing later this week. It’s so so important to do these things – truly listening and not judging – in order to give the kids the very best start in life. Have a great day xx

    • 20th April 2015 / 9:51 am

      Great minds think alike! It’s a reminder to myself as much as anything as my teenager is being a little trying at the moment. I can’t wait to read yours and get some more inspiration.

  3. 20th April 2015 / 9:13 am

    Sigh. This post made me sad because I know that as much as I want to be, I haven’t been much of a positive parent recently!
    My daughter spent a lot of time in tears this weekend, every time I casually asked her not to do something (ie, don’t stand too close to that) she would say “I’m sorry mummy” and burst into tears and I’d be confused as to why she took it so hard. But in hindsight, she was trying so hard to be a good girl on holiday and here I was filling the space with negative words.
    Thank you, very timely post xx Tin #sharethejoy

    • 20th April 2015 / 9:50 am

      Oh no, I didn’t want to make anyone sad. Parenting is 75% guilt in my experience that’s why I’m always trying to find ways to improve. I’m sure you weren’t as bad as you feel.

  4. 20th April 2015 / 9:39 am

    This is such a great post and lovely photos. I do try, I really do. I have always been known for my lack of patience and short fuse. I try to remember that I need be more positive and I really do praise him a lot but I know I need to work harder at it. Thanks for sharing this…along with my new healthy me this week (ahem), I will try and be more positive with my gorgeous boy 🙂 #magicmoments

    • 20th April 2015 / 9:48 am

      Thanks for your kind words, I’ve been trying to make this my mantra for many years and it’s finally becoming the norm, My poor teenager though was such a practice child for me.

    • 20th April 2015 / 10:42 am

      I’m sure you’re doing just great if you’re trying to do your best.

  5. Honest Mum
    20th April 2015 / 10:09 am

    Vital post, thanks for the important reminder, we are the blueprint for our kids, I think I’m mostly positive but when I fail I apologise and explain I’m just human and life can be stressful, that usually helps. #sharethejoylinky

    • 20th April 2015 / 10:13 am

      Thank you, that’s exactly what I was trying to convey, even when we do yell and shout, it’s the afterwards that can re balance. Like you say, we’re only human and just explaining why we do these things we do sometimes just helps children understand emotions a little better.

  6. 20th April 2015 / 11:18 am

    This is a really inspiring post, I must think about some of these things more often, I do try and end every day by telling my toddler what she did really well today and how she is so kind and caring etc. But I should be more mindful throughout the day. #mummymonday

    • 20th April 2015 / 4:41 pm

      Thank you, it’s a nice habit to get into especially as the negative parenting is so much easier to slip into. I think it’s how most of us were parented many years ago & so becomes the norm for us.

  7. 20th April 2015 / 11:26 am

    What a wonderful post – I try really hard to do this #sharethejoy

    • 20th April 2015 / 4:38 pm

      Thank you. Trying is all our children need us to do.

  8. 20th April 2015 / 11:27 am

    Fantastic post – will definitely try to be more aware of how I speak to my children – I suspect the ‘nos’ and ‘don’ts’ probably have the upper hand at times but I can see how being positive has a much more beneficial effect. Thank you for sharing.

    • 20th April 2015 / 4:38 pm

      I still have to take stock & make sure my nagging doesn’t out do my compliments

  9. JoyandPops
    20th April 2015 / 3:23 pm

    I’m constantly trying to bridge that gap between the parent I want to be…and the parent I so often am. I keep reminding myself that it’s the good parents that keep trying!!
    Great post with some lovely ideas.

    • 20th April 2015 / 4:07 pm

      It is, that’s exactly what I keep reminding myself, it’s when I give up ive failed.

    • 1st May 2015 / 9:46 pm

      Thank you, best of luck. You soon get in the swing of it.

  10. Mike B
    20th April 2015 / 4:29 pm

    The other day I stopped myself from saying the generic “good job” to my daughter. Instead I saud “I’m really proud of you for not giving up” and spoke directly of her accomplishment and her eyes lit up and she was so much more excited!
    It’s those little switches we make towards being positive!

    • 20th April 2015 / 4:37 pm

      That’s such a lovely example, I’m going to try that as soon the opportunity arises. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 20th April 2015 / 4:36 pm

    That’s so right, just being mindful shows you’re a thoughtful parent

  12. 20th April 2015 / 8:22 pm

    A good,. thoughtful post. I often catch myself saying “no” and “don’t” a lot, and it’s something I’m conscious of trying to do less. It will always creep in, but I want my kids to grow up more with possibilities than constraints.

    • 20th April 2015 / 9:26 pm

      That’s a great way of putting it Tim, I’m going to remember that one. Thank you.

  13. 21st April 2015 / 7:29 am

    You are so right. A little bit of positivity goes a long way. Popping over from #TwinklyTuesday

  14. 21st April 2015 / 10:44 am

    This is a great post. I always try to speak plot overly and be empathetic with my girls. I think it’s so important to remember they’re little humans, with the same feelings as any other person. It angers me when people think just because they’re children, they should behave and act a certain way, yet it’s ok for adults to have off days etc.
    I’m by no means saying I am perfect, there are times when I shout and get cross, but that’s what makes me human just like my children’s outbursts are what make them human.
    This was a great read, the fact the it takes ten positives to help someone feel better after one negative is something I did not know, and is quite shocking to discover.

    • 21st April 2015 / 10:47 am

      Thanks Faye, you sound like you’re doing a fantastic job with your girls, so many people do this already and I’m getting lovely feedback from this post. It’s heartwarming to know there are so many lovely parents trying to do their best for their little ones.

  15. 21st April 2015 / 11:31 am

    Baby E is only 7 months old but I was a teacher before taking maternity leave and speaking positively to children is something I think just comes naturally to me now (most of the time!). Things like separating the ‘bad’ behaviour of a child from the child as a person was always something we were trained to do. Hopefully my years of doing this as a teacher will make it much easier as Baby E get older! #TwinklyTuesdays

    • 21st April 2015 / 1:20 pm

      What an amazing teacher you sound. I’ve worked with children along time also & like you, one of the 1st things I remember being told was to label what the child was doing wrong & not the child them selves, (that’s not very nice to pull hair instead of you’re not very nice!) it’s really useful when you can’t find a positive alternative without shaming the child. Thanks so much for sharing, wish there were more like you!

  16. 21st April 2015 / 12:42 pm

    This is such a sweet post! Love the message and I try to be a positive parent. As much as I can =) #magicmoments

  17. Megan - Truly Madly Kids
    21st April 2015 / 6:19 pm

    You are definitely right – and this is a good reminder to always think I how I speak to mine!

    Lovely images on here too


    • 21st April 2015 / 8:28 pm

      Thanks Megan. I don’t think it ever hurts to be reminded how to speak positively.

  18. 21st April 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Such a great post! Thanks for your hindsight! I’m saving this to remind myself to be more positive

  19. 22nd April 2015 / 6:16 am

    Very wise words. When dealing with the rubbish life throws at me day to day, I’m sure I am guilty of being too negative sometimes. I always try to compliment and to explain why I’m telling off but I’m not perfect. Inmnay respects an inspiring blog post, thanks for writing it. We should all look inwards from time to time.

    • 22nd April 2015 / 9:35 am

      Thanks John, I’m chuffed you think it’s inspiring.

  20. Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)
    22nd April 2015 / 6:40 am

    I needed this today Ali. Ingrained negativity tends to make me a ‘no’ or ‘not now’ rather than a ‘yes’ mama and I’m trying really had to remember to approach every situation with a smile as I find it sets up a natural feeling of positivity. Fab post that spoke so much to me about working towards the parent I want to be every day.

    • 22nd April 2015 / 9:38 am

      Thanks so much Michelle, I’ve worked hard at it being my mantra, it’s such a shame we a find negativity so much easier but self improvement is what makes us all better people, I think. It’s not about perfect parenting, getting it just right will get us the results we want.

  21. Louise @ Birds and Lilies
    22nd April 2015 / 7:55 pm

    I have started noticing myself speaking very negatively towards my daughter recently; I know it’s because I’m really tired but it’s still not nice. I do always say loads of positive things towards her too but I really want to stop being so negative. I really like the walk don’t run idea.

    I saw a woman in a shop a few weeks ago and she was talking horribly to her too older children “don’t be stupid….” etc etc and it made me really sad. Great post xx #TwinklyTuesday

    • 1st May 2015 / 9:02 pm

      That’s what inspired me to write this post, I heard a lady being really abrupt and insulting to her chid (not the first time either) and it made me uncomfortable and unset so I couldn’t imagine how the child felt.

  22. 22nd April 2015 / 10:58 pm

    This is such a great and true post. It made me really sit back and reflect. I try to be give my daughter lots of compliments all the time and whenever she says she’s not good at something I always tell her that she is very good. But I also know that often I give out negative vibes and run around with a cross face, annoyed at the mess, or that I’m not being listened to etc. I think from tomorrow on I will really try and focus on more on what I’m saying, how I’m saying it and what my expressions are, as I really want to be a positive parent. This really has made me think, thank you! x

    • 1st May 2015 / 8:59 pm

      I’m sure you’re doing a fantastic job Isabella, I just like to keep reminding myself every now and then as it’s easy to slip into stress mum mode and I forget how it makes my kids feel.

  23. 23rd April 2015 / 3:33 am

    A fantastic post! It resonated with me so much. I try to be a positive parent, but I know I can do better at times. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • 1st May 2015 / 8:58 pm

      Thanks Erin, I think we should all keep checking we’re doing the best we can.

  24. Shonda
    23rd April 2015 / 3:51 am

    I look at those little faces and my heart melts with joy, but I know there have been times I’ve been cut to my kids. Usually whenwe are running short on time. I’ve learned to be vulnerable and ask for forgiveness.

    • 23rd April 2015 / 6:01 am

      I always apologise if I’ve lost my cool, at least they no it’s no acceptable behaviour & will hopefully learn to do the same

  25. 23rd April 2015 / 2:53 pm

    Brilliant post! I totally agree. I haven’t done this so far but that quote at the end struck a nerve. I will not let my nagging drag my children down. It’s time to stop. Thanks for this post. xx

    • 23rd April 2015 / 6:46 pm

      It’s hard I know, a friend reminded me today that you should always tell

    • 23rd April 2015 / 6:46 pm

      You children what you want them to do & not what you don’t want. I thought that sums it up really well.

  26. 23rd April 2015 / 2:59 pm

    Your post is so right – I just wish that I reacted the right way each time. My upbringing was different to the way in which I bring up my kids, I hope for the better. As a parent you can only try! Great writing

  27. Lauren
    23rd April 2015 / 4:58 pm

    We try a lot of this, especially with my eldest being autistic he is very likely to only hear the last thing said to him. its hard sometimes but think it definitely has a good effect on them x

    • 23rd April 2015 / 6:48 pm

      Sounds like you have the perfect parenting pattern in place. I do get better results when I’m positive.

    • 18th March 2016 / 4:44 am

      That’s interesting to here it’s one of your tactics for your autistic son. I can see how bring specific in your words would help.

  28. 23rd April 2015 / 8:42 pm

    Thank you for this blog post. I really enjoyed it. My son is not even one yet, but your words are wise and I need to start positive parent practises now.

    Thank you!

    • 23rd April 2015 / 9:09 pm

      you’re welcome Pen, it’s never to early to start.

  29. Jenny
    23rd April 2015 / 9:45 pm

    I really hope to think that I am a positive parent. And for the most part I am trying my best to do what’s right for both of my toddlers. I do find I shout more than I want to, and I don’t like it. Two toddlers talking over me and each other while I am trying to do or talk to Daddy is probably the fast way for me to shout. Doesn’t do any good though. lol I am learning like the rest of us. Love this post. Gorgeous photos too. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    • 24th April 2015 / 7:21 pm

      Thanks Jenny, I don’t think many people could keep their cool in those situations!

  30. 23rd April 2015 / 10:49 pm

    This is so, so true. I remember reading before that a child will always hear the last thing you say; so when you say — ‘don’t jump on the furniture’ — they hear ‘jump on the furniture’ which is why you should always be a little bit more positive in your direction. Great post — thanks for sharing and thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro |

    • 1st May 2015 / 8:56 pm

      Thanks Caro, it’s so easy to forget these little snippets of information isn’t it.

  31. 24th April 2015 / 11:02 pm

    What a brilliant post and so beautifully written. I really need to do this as i am guilty of snapping at my children xx #sharewithme

  32. 25th April 2015 / 10:45 am

    Great post! Just what I need to hear today, I really must make this my mantra, especially for my 3 year old who I’m always telling what not to do. Thank you! Xx

  33. Andy
    25th April 2015 / 3:58 pm

    Lovely wise post, particularly lover the Peggy O’Mara quote at the end.

    • 25th April 2015 / 10:13 pm

      Thank you, I keep having to remind myself of that quote. I try & tell my kids how fabulous they are all the time in the hope they’ll feel it

  34. rachel
    25th April 2015 / 6:19 pm

    I do try to make a conscious effort to praise and be positive but there are some days I feel like i am constantly telling them off and then i feel bad when they are asleep. I suppose its a bit of a juggling act sometimes. #brilliantblogposts

    • 1st May 2015 / 8:54 pm

      That moment when they’re asleep and you reflect on the day is the worst for mum guilt. I’m sure we forget all the good things we did during the day though. I’m awful at beating myself up after they’ve all settled.

  35. 26th April 2015 / 11:06 am

    What a great post! I hope to be a positive parent…:)

  36. 26th April 2015 / 1:14 pm

    Such a lovely positive post, Thank you for linking up with #MagicMoments

  37. 26th April 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Fab post! I’m so conscious of shouting to much and saying “don’t”. I’m already trying to think of other ways even though she is only 20 months old. It’s really hard but like you say always learning xx #sundaystars

    • 26th April 2015 / 4:39 pm

      Thank you, as long as we are always trying to keep positive, that’s the best we can do.

  38. 26th April 2015 / 4:01 pm

    Wow. Yes. I really identify with this at the moment! My daughter is 2 + 4mo and she has entered that phase of big feelings, frustration, etc. So we’ve had a few tears of late. I do hear myself being negative and really must make effort to change that. The quote about your voice becoming their inner voice – that will focus my motivation! Thank yo for sharing – lovely blog too x

    • 26th April 2015 / 4:42 pm

      Thank you Anna, that’s so sweet of you. 2 is such a tough age for the on set of big emotions, they’re still very self centred so the world can seem a really mean place at times. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be great.

  39. 26th April 2015 / 6:22 pm

    I am guilty of this and need to bring it back because for every annoying thing that happens my sons do at least 4 wonderful things!! Thank you for reminding me.


    • 1st May 2015 / 9:14 pm

      You’re welcome. I know some days it’s hard to find something positive when they’re being really narky, that;s when I have to really remind myself the words but I never shame or frighten them. that’s just mean.

  40. Gemma Louise (@sunshineblogxo)
    26th April 2015 / 7:07 pm

    really really love this post – it is great! 🙂 I love the tips, etc. It is important to check how you are. I really try to be positive as much as I can with Corey, but sometimes you don’t even realise you are saying something like when they mess up and you are like “ahh”. I’m all about positivity at the moment and this was a great post to read 🙂

    thankyou for joining in with #mummymonday – love Gemma – host xo

    • 26th April 2015 / 10:43 pm

      Thanks Gemma, that’s such s lovely comment. Keep up the positivity!

  41. 26th April 2015 / 9:29 pm

    This is such a great post! It brings two sides out of me. One, I know I try my upmost to be positively and to speak positively. It’s something people actually comment on. Lol Two, I also know that I don’t always with the boys and it’s something that I am working on. Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky

    • 26th April 2015 / 10:46 pm

      It’s hard as a parent to keep it up when we’re trying to guide our kids in the right direction but if you’re a positive person on the whole it soon filters into your parenting

  42. 30th April 2015 / 11:07 pm

    Great post, this is something I am finding exceedingly harder now my older kids are teenagers!
    Thanks for linking up with #Sundaystars x

  43. 1st May 2015 / 9:48 pm

    I love that slogan, I’m going to try and remember that one.

  44. 27th June 2015 / 10:16 pm

    i agree with this post so much. over the past couple of weeks i have heard some parents say awful things to their children in the playground and i could just cry at the thought of how those children’ are being crushed before my very eyes. i make it my job to be my son’s cheerleader and i chose to focus on the positive rather than the negative (in everything tbh) but it can be so easy to fall into the nagging/negative trap.

    great post!

    ps you may enjoy my last post ‘nurturing self confidence, it mirrors lots of what you have said here x

    • 28th June 2015 / 7:08 am

      Thank you, it’s so sad isn’t it. I know when you’ve had a bad day its easy to blow your top at the slightest things but I think it always harder to hear your parents criticise you than anyone else. I’m popping over to read your post right now.

  45. 17th March 2016 / 11:28 pm

    I’m so pleased I stumbled across your blog tonight – really love this simple message; essentially speak to our children how we would wish to be spoken to. Thank you for writing this – it’s the reminder I needed and I will be sharing this post on my blog in the near future (and leaving the laptop on with it showing for my hubby too). I look forward to reading more of your stuff (when it’s not so late) x

    • 18th March 2016 / 4:42 am

      Thank you, that’s so kind of you to say. I do have to keep revisiting it myself as i get carried away with the nagging!

  46. 9th May 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I totally agree; except for the walk don’t run…did I miss interpret it and that’s what you shouldn’t say as the last word is the negative of what you don’t want? I usually go for ‘walk please’ and a tip I picked up from a friend is add Ps & Qs and psychologically they think they’ve already done it.

    • 9th May 2016 / 8:32 pm

      It’s meant the sense that you should shout don’t run as run is most likely to be the word they hear. I’ve always been told to tell children what you want them to do not what you don’t want them to do. And yes, the p’s and q’s are always important!

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