The 5 principles of happy + positive parents

You are your child’s encourager, the one who sees their light and protects its glow. ✨

The 5 principles of happy + positive parents

Many years ago when I made the paradigm shift to Positive Parenting, I came up with 5 principles by which I wanted to live and parent. I shared these principles in my book Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide.

1. The first principle is attachment.

This is a deep, secure emotional bond. I made this a priority because for a child to grow and develop well, he must feel secure in the care of his caregivers. Importantly, securely attached children follow our guidance more readily and accept our boundaries. They trust us. Only when we have their hearts do we have lasting influence in their lives.

2. The second principle is respect.

This concept was simple to me. If I want them to show respect, they must be shown respect.

3. The third principle is proactive parenting.

This means putting in the time and teaching up front before a problem arises and putting in the relationship work that strengthens my influence.

4. The fourth principle is empathetic leadership.

This came to my list because of the power of empathy to both connect and to calm. I do not believe in permissiveness which takes a backseat role in parenting, allowing the child to take the lead. Parents must maintain the leadership role as we were meant to do, but it is in leading with empathy, gentleness, regard, and kindness that sets positive parenting apart from the authoritarian style.

5. The fifth principle is positive discipline.

I don’t believe lessons are learned with noses in a corner but through holding children accountable and teaching them the skills needed to make better choices, make amends, and correct their mistakes.

These principles have guided my hand over the last 8 years, and I have shared these ideas with parents all over the world who are drawn by their hearts to this connected way of raising children.

Positive Parenting resonates with millions, yet while the principles are easy to understand, putting them into action can feel a bit daunting. When you realize that much of what you are already doing is positive parenting, it becomes easier to implement the rest.

Here are 7 ways you’re already doing positive parenting

1. You play with them.

Every time you sit on the floor and roll a train, pretend to run a grocery store, play hide and seek, or play a board game—you’re filling your child’s emotional tank and strengthening your relationship.

Play is the way to a child’s heart, and it is one of the quickest ways to connect heart to heart with them. Connection is the foundation that positive parenting rests upon, and every time you take the time to play with your child, you’re being a positive parent!

Did you know that it also wards off problem behavior? It’s true! When your child feels connected to you and his emotional tank is full, his good behavior will reflect how good he feels inside. This falls under the principles of attachment and proactive parenting.

2. You encourage them.

“You can do it!” You started saying to the wobbly baby learning to walk, and continued saying to the teenager entering senior year, and to the adult child holding her own child for the first time. You are your child’s encourager, the one who sees their light and protects its glow.

Empathy, respect, attachment, proactive parenting, and positive discipline all come under the umbrella of encouragement. It is life-giving, and you are already supplying it.

3. You read to them.

When you read to your child, you are carving out special time just for the two (or more!) of you. There are no distractions. You’re present, focused, and attentive. This hits principles one, two, and three!

This special time connects you and strengthens your attachment. You’re showing that you respect your child enough to prioritize time with her, and both of these things are preventative measures against misbehavior.

4. You teach them right from wrong.

You already teach your child which behaviors are appropriate and acceptable and which are not. You correct wrongful attitudes and confront poor choices. Most parents discuss with their child what he should have done differently or how to better handle himself the next time. You are already teaching her the skills she needs, and so you’re a lot closer to positive discipline than you may think.

While discipline is probably the area that requires the biggest adjustment when transitioning to positive parenting, you are already doing so much right!

5. You comfort them when they need you.

How many boo-boos have you kissed? How many times have you rocked your crying baby or held your upset or sad child in your embrace? Countless, I’m sure. Each time you’ve done so, you’ve provided empathy.

6. You give them wings but remain home base.

Sometimes you hold your breath as your preschooler climbs at the playground, staying close in case she falls, but standing back. You are respecting her autonomy. You allow her to venture a little farther away, to climb a little higher, to pour her own juice, to discover who she is. Sometimes you let go of her little hand and you watch. Yet you always remain home base.

You are the sun that she spins around. So much of parenting is a dance between letting go and holding on, and you are already learning the steps. This is positive parenting.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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