Positive Parenting Solutions by Amy McCready is one of the most popular and successful parenting classes out there.
Amy has appeared on TV multiple times and she has been endorsed by The New York Times, the Today show, Steve Harvey and medical professionals galore.
But what is all the fuss about? And is the Positive Parenting Solutions program right for you?
We’ve been lucky enough to be granted ‘backstage passes’ to the PPS program and se we’re going to road test it for you and let you know exactly what goes on under the hood.
Positive Parenting Solutions – In-depth Review
Before we begin a quick disclaimer (and spoiler alert!).
We were asked to review the course as part of the Positive Parenting Solutions partner program. That is, if someone signs up to the course via our recommendation we receive a small commission.
We want to let you know that to be 100% open and honest.
BUT, and here’s the spoiler, we were granted two weeks free access to the program in order to review it. However, we were so blown away by how good this program is we actually paid to sign up to it as customers in our own right.
We at Stuff4Tots would never risk our good name by recommending crappy products so read on and find out why we love this program so much.
What exactly is Positive Parenting Solutions?
The tagline on the PPS website is
“We equip parents with the tools they need to get kids to listen without nagging, yelling or losing control.”
In a nutshell the courses aim is to improve how your kids behave in a positive, less disciplinarian way that will encourage openness and willing co-operation; rather than nagging and shouting.
The course is rooted in psychology and draws on proven time-tested theories.
It brings these theories up-to-date through practical application via a seven step program – The 7 Step Parenting Success System.
Here’s a quick overview video in Amy’s own words:
Positive Parenting Solutions 7-step Parenting System
To give you an idea if PPS is right for you we’re going to step through the seven steps one-by-one.
Step 1 – The Science of Misbehavior And How You Contribute
Step 1 is split into 7 individual lessons.
We start by learning about Adlerian Psychology which is based on the work of Alfred Adler (1870-1937) who was a contemporary and one-time colleague of Sigmund Freud.
He and Freud disagreed about the core motivators of human behavior, fell out and set up their separate schools of thought.
I’ve got to say this could have been quite a boring lesson but I actually found it quite interesting. And, having heard what Adlerian psychology is all about, I’m more inclined to agree with him than Freud.
To apply Adlerian psychology to 21st century parenting McCready comes up with 3 core principles:
- A child’s primary goal is to achieve belonging and significance
- All behavior is goal oriented
- A misbehaving child is a discouraged child
It is important to understand these concepts as they form the core basis of the course – the foundation of Positive Parenting Solutions. Amy goes into detail to explain these concepts so it’ll all become crystal clear to you what they are, why they are important and how to incorporate them into your parenting.
Step one is chocker-block with content and Amy then goes into detail as to how birth order can affect a child’s attitude and behavior. I’d never thought of things that way but it makes total sense.
Also in step 1 is a Parenting Personality Assessment. It’s a short questionaire that breaks your personality into one of four categories. I came out as a ‘Pleaser’ which isn’t brilliant I guess but also probaby true. If I’m honest I’m not sure how this Personality Assessment is going to fit into the rest of the course and help us improve our parenting style but perhaps if I was one of the other personality types it would be more obvious.
The core take away from Step 1 is the first tool that Amy introduces – MBST or Mind, Body and Soul Time.
This is a very simple concept. Basically spend ten minutes per day one-to-one with each child.
Amy goes into a lot of detail as to why this will be effective (linking it back to Adlerian psychology) but it makes so much sense.
In fact it’s kind of one of those things that makes so much sense it can almost be devalued because you kind of think it is just plain obvious.
However, knowing something and doing it and two different things. For example, we do actually spend a good bit of one-to-one time with each of our two every night. We take turns to read to them before bed and then have a quick snuggle after lights out.
The difference, as Amy points out, is that we don’t ‘label’ that time. That is, we should expressly tell our kids that they are getting ‘special mommy and daddy time’ while you’re doing it. It’s that acknowledgement or ‘credit’ that makes the child realize they are valued and ties it all back to the 3 Adlerian principles.
Simple but brilliant. We were really impressed by what we’ve seen so far in Step 1. These ‘ah-ha’ moments are almost worth the admission price on their own.
So we were definitely excited about checking out the other six steps.
Step 2 – From Complaining To Contributing
There are 11 lessons is step 2 (sub-titled Empower Your Kids To Be Confident, Capable, And Independent) – mostly videos but also a couple of quizes.
This second session starts out with a short review of step 1 – in the form of five “BIG IDEAS”. This was extremely useful actually as it pushed home some of the learnings that weren’t quite registering properly from the first run through.
After that there’s no more pre-amble and we’re straight in to the core material of step 2. [I’m beginning to appreciate Amy’s no-fluff straight-to-the-point teaching style. It gives just enough detail to explain the point and then moves on – saves a lot of time faffing].
The first lesson in step 2 talks about the ‘competent giant’ which is how our little ones perceive us – a giant compared to their tiny stature and extremely competent and always getting things right compared to their bumbling efforts (guess they’re not referring to teenagers at this point!!).
The lesson is one of the longer videos of the course and is a fly-on-the-wall view of a live seminar they did once. The role play is a unique perspective on how a child views the world and his relationship with his adult guardians.
It demonstrates the inherent imbalance of power between the parent and the child (the name Competent Giant says it all). All the child want is to be belong and feel significant. When the competent giant yells at the tiny child it is a lose-lose for both sides. Both the parent and the child are left feeling ‘defeated’ at the end of such an interaction.
Step 2 goes on with important point after important point. This really is a content packed course. One thing we found particularly helpful is the concept of ‘Praise versus Encouragement’. This tool is extremely simple yet extremely powerful. We were so impressed we were inspired to write a dedicated article and free download on why parents should focus on encouragement over praise. Click the link if you want to check that out.
Those familiar with the concept of ‘fixed versus growth mindset’ will recognize and identify the core concepts of this tool. The video below gives some good examples; or you can head on over to our article.
Step 2 was another content packed inspiration from Amy McCready.
Step 3 – Revolutionize Your Routines
I think if you’re aware enough to be reading an article about one of the leading Parenting Programs then it’s safe to assume that you understand the need for Routine in a young child’s life. Is that fair?
In this step Amy takes us through a journey to get our family returns running like clockwork – and backchat free!!
She begins with an overview of ‘power’ and how its dynamics affect family life. Again calling on Adlerian Psychology she uses examples to make something that I hadn’t really thought of before blindingly obvious. That is the concept – “We can’t control another person. We can’t force people to do something without breaking their spirit or ending up with a huge power struggle. All we can control is our ourselves and the environment.”
Sounds obvious reading it back but how many of us are guilty of trying to control the person (i.e. our children) first and getting frustrated when we get push back?
The tool Amy introduces to combat this problem is the ‘Decision Rich Environment’. That is, giving plenty of opportunity for kids to make positive decisions throughout the day.
In fact whenever we can we want to leave age appropriate decisions up to our kids.
This allows parents to better choose their battles – and have more amenable, flexible kids when they do occur.
Here are some examples of positive choices:
- Would you like your blue towel or your yellow towel in your bath today vs you need to take a bath now
- Would you like me to soap you up now or would you like to do that yourself
- Would you like to empty the dishwasher first or take out the trash
- Would you like to do your homework before or after a snack
- Would you like to do your homework on the table in the kitchen or in your room
A choice around a task that has to be done gives a child a feeling of control.
But what if they refuse to make a choice? Or choose a different thing? Amy describes this as “exerting negative power”. Respond with your Calm voice (tool from step 1) smile and reply – “since you didn’t choose I will choose for you”.
Step 3 was another value packed session. Phew! There’s so much to cover in this course.
If you’ve heard enough of me wittering on and would like to hear from Amy herself then check out her free trail class by clicking on the image below.
Otherwise read on and we’ll go through the remaining steps.
Step 4 – From Power Struggles to Peace
This session is about giving kids ‘Positive Power’. That is, age-appropriate power, on your terms, that allows the child to feel validated and significant – but without undermining your overall role as the parent.
Amy looks at the motivation factors behind misbehavior and gives you tools necessary to dig them out by the root.
One of the most powerful lessons from this step is a tool called “Mistaken Goals of Behavior”.
A Mistaken Goal (so-called because the behavior is based on what the child thinks is true, not what is really true) is a child’s misguided attempt to find belonging and significance.
If a child doesn’t feel belonging and significance through positive, productive means, he/she will seek other ways to find attention and power. They are called Mistaken Goals because they represent a child’s mistaken belief about how he/she can find belonging and significance.
The four Mistaken Goals of Behavior are:
- Undue Attention
- Assumed Inadequacy
Pretty serious stuff!
There are some great tools to deal with this though. Such as:
- Ignore Undue Attention
- Avoid Special Service
- The Re-Do Tool
- Set Limits and Stick to Them
- Ask And Answered
Step 4 is a really in-depth session and covers some of the major issues with so-called ‘naughty’ children; most likely just acting up due to mistaken goals.