Positive parenting or how to make a child happy

Fauve Soddard, school psychologist

Principles of caring parenting

In France, positive parenting principles are popularized by pediatricians like Catherine Gegen and psychotherapists like Isabel Filiosa. They argue that parents need to identify not only their child’s emotions, but their own.

It is about exercising authority with empathy, taking into account the needs and limitations of the child, which have been clearly identified according to age thanks to brain research. Progress sometimes doesn’t mix well with cultural heritage.” spanking never hurt anyone “. Nevertheless, many parents are interested in it.

Prohibition of threats and humiliation

We know that repeating demeaning words destroys neurons. On the contrary, empathetic and lasting relationships allow the brain to evolve optimally. .

Visionary psychiatrist John Bowlby was the first to rank emotional stability as a major need. A gesture of kindness actually triggers the production of oxytocin, the hormone of happiness, which allows for optimal development of brain function.

According to educational psychologist Marie-Hélène Charifourt, in young children, the frontal lobes of the brain are still forming that enable reasoning, problem-solving, and impulse resistance. Similarly, the limbic system, which controls emotions, still has connections between neurons. This immaturity of the brain explains some behaviors in children, and well-meaning education takes this into account.

What science tells us

Science tells us that we must stop seeing purposeful behavior in our toddler’s anger. That is why small children cannot settle down by themselves.

When a young child rolls on the floor, an emotional storm overwhelms them. ” you must be firm !”, can you hear me? However, it is the opposite to be by the child’s side, to put their feelings into words, to reassure them, and to reassure them. The image a child has of himself is built directly from what his parents say.

nurture the joy of being together

The pandemic has made parents realize the importance of being with their families. Psychiatrist Patrice Hule emphasizes this point. Parents must absolutely ensure that schooling does not take up all the space in their child’s life. Time spent together shouldn’t be limited to parenthood. On the contrary, you should share his passion and game with him. ”

Prioritize positive direction

Don’t run away, don’t hit your brother…” This type of sentence draws the child’s attention to what not to do and does not help follow instructions. In fact, young children can have difficulty controlling themselves to respect prohibitions. This is because the mechanisms (inhibitions) that are supposed to prevent infants from engaging in prohibited behavior develop very slowly in the brain.

However, positive instructions are easier to follow because they direct your child’s attention to the desired behavior. For example, instead of telling your child: don’t jump on the couch “, tell him: ” sitting on the sofa»

Isabelle Filliozat recalls: Children need love and attention the most when they are seen as the least worthy. », that love is fuel, not reward And children need this fuel in order to behave properly.


  • for a happy childhood : Rethinking Education in the Light of the Latest Brain Discoveries Pocket Edition by Catherine Guegen
  • I tried everything!I. Filliozat, Marabout Editions, 2013

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