5 Positive Parenting Myths Explained and DEBUNKED

Little girl with a crown and magnifying glass

“Positive Parenting? Isn’t that the one where every kid gets a trophy and parents give into the child’s every request?”

“Oh, Positive Parenting? I tried that once. It doesn’t work for my kid. He only listens when I yell.”

“My parents didn’t use Positive Parenting and I turned out fine.”

“Positive Parenting is making our kids weak and lazy because parents don’t discipline kids anymore.”

Oh, my friend. I’ve heard it all. And I get it, because I, too, was once a skeptic.

When you’re being hit from all sides with parenting advice—both online and in person—it’s difficult to sift through it all and figure out what will really work for your family.

Once I discovered what Positive Parenting REALLY is, and began seeing the transformation in my family first-hand, all my skepticism melted away.

To help you decide if positive parenting is a good fit for your family, let’s debunk the 5 Positive Parenting myths that I hear all the time.


Myth #1: It’s All About Rewards

Truth: Positive Parenting does NOT suggest using rewards to change behavior

When I ask parents what Positive Parenting strategies they currently use, I always hear at least one parent say “We use a rewards chart.”

For years, the lines between positive reinforcement and Positive Parenting have been blurred, leading parents to believe they are one and the same.

The truth is, Positive Parenting advises AGAINST using rewards because they don’t work long-term.

Multiple studies have shown that rewards may deliver temporary compliance, but when used over time, they actually ERODE the child’s INTRINSIC interest in whatever activity they were being rewarded for. 

Rewards erode a child's intrinsic interest

Further, rewards are a slippery slope which can lead to an attitude of entitlement. If you’re willing to reward your child with a cookie for cleaning her room, it seems reasonable she would hold out for that sweet treat the next time you ask her to complete any other task. And be sure, that cookie will eventually become hum-drum and you’ll have to up the ante to something more appealing.  

If you’re ready to ditch the rewards and want to know what to do instead, here are just a few parenting techniques that will get the result you’re looking for without the “what’s in it for me” attitude.  


Myth #2: Children Don’t Face Real-World Consequences

Truth: Children are held accountable and experience reasonable and relatable consequences for poor choices

Positive Parenting critics often think parents are encouraged to simply “talk” and “discuss” behavioral problems with children instead of holding them accountable with consequences.

In Positive Parenting, we always start with teaching the child the alternative appropriate behavior and setting clear expectations. However, when children make poor choices, they experience the natural consequences of those choices.  

For example, if the child refuses to do his homework, the natural consequence is a poor grade or a difficult conversation with the teacher. The positive parent certainly wouldn’t step in and protect the child from that important learning opportunity.

If technology rules are not followed, the logical consequence is the child would lose technology privileges for a period of time.

In fact, I’ve created a FREE ONLINE CLASS that teaches parents the ins and outs of consequences and how to use them effectively. If you’ve ever wondered how to implement consequences in a way that FINALLY works, I’d love to have you join me.  

Join Amy for a FREE Class


Myth #3: Children Are Constantly Praised

Truth: Positive Parenting teaches parents to ENCOURAGE not PRAISE

Parents who question Positive Parenting strategies often feel like we live in the “self-esteem” era. It is true that well-intentioned voices want to curate positive self-esteem in children, but Positive Parenting proponents see positive self-esteem as a byproduct of Positive Parenting – not the starting point.

While the distinction between praise and encouragement isn’t immediately obvious to some, words of praise are related to the outcome of a situation or to a child’s personality or character.

Examples of Praise include:

“You’re so smart!”

“That’s a beautiful picture!”

“You’re so beautiful!”

“You’re the best soccer player on your team!”

“You’re so talented!”

The problem with these phrases, while well-meaning, is they actually discourage a child in the long-run.

What happens to the child who DOESN’T receive first place at the art show even though she’s been told over and over she is “the best artist in 3rd grade.”

Or what about the kid who gets a C on a math test, but was always told, “You’re so smart!”

Do these kids know how to overcome these challenges? Or are they too discouraged by these small setbacks?

When children receive overwhelming amounts of praise, they become dependent on it and begin to care more about others’ opinions than their own motivation. You’ll hear them say, “Did I do this right?” or “Do you like it?” or “Are you proud of me?”

Instead of showering children with praise, use words of encouragement instead.

Unlike praise, words of encouragement focus on a child’s effort. This distinction is important because when children’s EFFORTS are encouraged, they become more intrinsically motivated. There is no talk of “best” or “smartest” or “fastest” and children can instead focus on the hard work behind the task.

Examples of Encouragement include:

“Wow! You worked really hard on that!”

“I love the colors you chose in your picture!”

“You should feel proud of yourself for all your hard work!”

“I love seeing you smile!”

“I could tell you were giving it your all in the soccer game!”

“Your hard work is really paying off!”

For more information on the differences between praise and encouragement, check out this article.


Myth #4: It Breeds Co-Dependent Children

Truth: Positive Parenting empowers children to be highly independent

Parents worldwide desire to raise resilient, capable, independent adults—so the question is, how do you do it?

While critics may think Positive Parenting creates co-dependent children, the opposite is true. There is no other parenting method that encourages children’s self-autonomy and capabilities the way Positive Parenting techniques do.

As early as 18 months, wee ones can carry the diaper to the pail and put pajamas in a basket. At two, littles can pick up toys and get a cup out of a bottom cabinet—these tasks, though simple, encourage kids to help at a young age and lay the foundation for responsible living.

Positive Parenting fosters a strong sense of personal autonomy and capability at all ages.


Positive Parenting fosters a strong sense of autonomy and capability


The truth is, children are much more capable than we give them credit for. Often, when children are young, parents deter a child’s offer to “help” because “their help” often means more work on the parent. However,
parents should take the time when these kiddos are young if they expect children to volunteer to help later.

For ideas on simple tasks or “jobs” kids of all ages can do, grab a copy of our “Task to Chore Translator” and find out just what your child is capable of!


Myth #5:  It’s Based On Fluffy Theory

Truth: Positive Parenting is based on the widely trusted and highly researched foundations of Adlerian Psychology

In the Internet Age, it can be tricky to know if you’re getting the best information, and that’s especially true when it comes to parenting advice.

If you’re stumbling upon Positive Parenting for the first time, you might imagine a circle of moms in a zen-like state discussing the beauty within each of their children while unicorns dance around the room and their children play with fairy dust.

But the truth is, Positive Parenting is anything but fluffy. It has been tediously vetted, repeatedly studied, and its tactics have stood the test of time.

What makes Positive Parenting so effective is that the methodology isn’t age-specific, gender-specific, culture-specific or even behavior-specific. Positive Parenting aims to meet the hard-wired needs that all children have—the needs for belonging and significance.

I’ve been a parenting educator for 15+ years and have helped transform over 75,000 families using Positive Parenting Solutions Tools. You can feel confident knowing that Positive Parenting will produce results in YOUR home as it has for thousands of families worldwide.


Final Thoughts

I know you want to be the best parent you can be for your children—there’s no doubt about that. And while it might feel impossible some days, trust me when I say, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

I hope you can see that any myths you believed about Positive Parenting or hesitations you may have about its effectiveness for your family have been put to rest. If you still aren’t sure, check out these 5 Positive Parenting techniques you can start using today and see for yourself.

As always, if you’d like to learn more Positive Parenting strategies that work, I’d love to have you join me for a FREE ONLINE CLASS.

I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen without nagging, reminding or yelling.

Wishing you a calm and peaceful parenting journey!

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.