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Why Positive Parenting Doesn’t Always Work


Hey everyone, welcome back! Remember when I chatted about the magic of positive parenting in my last article?


We talked about how this parenting style molds our kids to be happy, strong, and kind. If you missed it, check it out.


But there is also a catch that can make this parenting style feel just out of reach – that’s what I’m going to talk about today.


In case you don’t already know me, I’m Jlove, and together with our awesome team at Mercury Coach, we are sharing the most powerful mind tools and practices we know to help parents break free from self-judgment, anxiety, and the false limiting beliefs that hold you back from slowing down, savoring your life, connecting deeply and teaching your kids to do the same.


Today I’m talking about the dark side of positive parenting and what you can do about it, but first let’s talk about why I love this approach so much.


Positive Parenting and the unconscious mind

Last week, I mentioned that this is the only parenting style I’ve seen that harnesses the power of the unconscious mind to fully empower kids not only to get great outcomes but to feel really good about themselves. So let’s talk about that for a sec.


The unconscious mind is that hidden part of our brain where memories, beliefs, values and past experiences reside, silently guiding our actions without us even realizing it. It controls somewhere around 95% of behaviors - It has a number of important roles in our lives but put simply it is there to keep us safe and to help us get what it thinks we want.


The thing about the unconscious mind is that it cannot process negatives. So when we tell it what we don’t want, it makes a picture of that and then our conscious mind tries to erase it. But before we can erase it, it’s there in our mind first. For example, if I tell you, "Don't think of a chocolate cake," guess what? You're thinking of a rich, delicious cake now, right?


And where our attention goes, the energy flows.


With kids, it’s similar. If we tell them NOT to do something, whatever that is, their minds go to it right away.


The beauty of positive parenting is that we tell our kid what we WANT, not what we DON’T want. We tell them what they are doing RIGHT, not what they are doing wrong. And as I said, where the attention goes, the energy flows.


Top 3 Reasons Positive Parenting Doesn’t Work

Now let’s talk about why positive parenting doesn’t always work.

In short, the answer is because we either aren’t really practicing it - or we aren’t able to.


There are 3 common patterns that I see again and again.


AntiPattern #1:We don’t actually trust it will work.

We often jump into positive parenting without truly understanding it or trusting fully that it works. The result? A mix of old habits and new practices. One day we might shower our child with praise and look the other way when they do something we don’t like, then the next day, our partner or parent says the kids need real consequences if they are going to learn, or this isn’t how the real world works, and we wonder if we are on the right track, start to doubt ourselves and switch approaches. Our kids end up getting mixed signals. One day we’re calm, the next we're crazy. That makes for incredibly nervous kids because they know what to expect or how to act. Imagine trying to follow a recipe that keeps changing ingredients. And whatever the rules are, whatever your style, kids need to know what to expect at home in order to feel safe.


So what’s the solution?


The solution: Consistency and education.

Dive deeper into understanding the core principles of positive parenting, perhaps through workshops, books, or discussions with seasoned positive parents. As you solidify your understanding and conviction, your actions will naturally become more consistent. Look, this approach is counter cultural so you need to have real faith that it will work, and better yet, understand WHY it works so you can stick to your guns when the pressure is on.


Secondly, communicate openly with your partner, family, or anyone involved in your child’s upbringing to ensure everyone is on the same page. Make agreements. Setting clear expectations, not just with your kids, but with your partner.


And then stick to those agreements consistently adhering to them not only reinforces positive behavior but also creates a stable and secure environment for your child. If your child is old enough to understand, like 8 and up, you could also let them know that you are working on a new approach and what your intention is. It's not about perfection but about consistent effort and understanding. The more secure you are in your parenting approach, the more secure your child will feel.


AntiPattern #2: You’ve got the wrong WHY.

If you are looking for an approach that will get your kids to behave better and do what you want them to, this is not the right approach. Positive parenting is a long game. You are building a solid foundation of trust, confidence, empowerment and will. That means they are more likely to make choices that please THEM, not others and certainly not you. That can also make for more conflict.


And for a period of time, developmentally, that’s actually a very good thing. The last thing we want is for kids to learn to sacrifice their own well-being out of fear of punishment or loss of love and good will.


The Solution: Shift your focus from short-term obedience to long-term character building. Embrace the idea that empowering your child to make decisions for themselves, even if they sometimes clash with your immediate wishes, is fostering independence, critical thinking, and self-worth. It's crucial to value the relationship over the individual moments of conflict.

Engage in open dialogues, provide guidance rather than directives, and remember that every challenge is an opportunity for growth—not just for your child but for you. By nurturing their intrinsic motivation and self-direction, you're preparing them for a future where they can stand strong in their values and make meaningful choices.


AntiPattern #3: Your Automatic Reactions take over

This one's big.

Despite our best intentions, our emotions take over and we find ourselves saying and doing things that we swore we wouldn’t or sounding like our parents. We get triggered and we literally CAN NOT respond the way that we want to. It can even feel like our survival is at stake, and we are left scratching our heads, wondering how a 3 year old could get us into such a state.


I’m going to go much deeper into this particular challenge in our next article and talk about what you can do but in broad strokes here is what you need to do…

The Solution: Create new automatic patterns.

The typical way you build new patterns is through practice. The more you practice responding differently when you aren’t very triggered, the easier it will be to respond that way when you are.


The other option is to remove the triggers from your mind, so that the things that once bothered you don’t anymore and you have total freedom to respond how you want. That’s what we do for our clients at Mercury Coach with the Personal Breakthrough. Check out our website to see if it's for you.


In my next article, I’ll talk more about what’s going on in your mind that causes you to respond in ways you don’t want to, and conscious practices you can do right away to overcome that reactivity.


In the meantime, hug your kids and thanks for reading.




If you are ready to make changes and START loving your life, check out my upcoming program The JoyAlchemy Time Machine. It was a life changer for me and I can’t wait to share it with you.


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