We all want to be a good parent and to have good parenting skills. There is so much to manage. Regardless of the age of your child, there will be challenges that you face on a daily basis. Just like there are no perfect parents, there is no perfect child. Every child will have a tantrum. All kids will whine at one time or another. All siblings will have disagreements.
There are many resources out there (many on my site!) to help manage a variety of challenging childhood behaviour. These parenting skills can be used by every parent, to help all children and make parenting easier and more effective.
10 Good Parenting Skills For Effective Parenting
1. Keep Calm
No-one likes to be yelled at, especially children. An adults’ voice can be very loud to young ears and can even be scary. The problem with yelling, aside from the emotional damage from excessive and frequent yelling, is that often your child doesn’t learn.They only acts a certain way because they feel your emotion on a vibrational level. When we as parents go to help our child, re-direct, guide or teach them, it is always more effective if we are calm when we do it. When we are calm our thoughts and speech are clearer. Our children then hear the message we are saying and are more likely to respond correctly.
As parents we must remember to breathe, take a step back and talk to our child when emotions aren’t high. It’s helpful to take courses to help you stop yelling at your kids. My Calm Mummy Challenge runs for five days and is perfect to help you get started on controlling your emotions.
2. Listen To Your Child
Our children want to be heard. Whether is a young baby learning to talk by babbling and copying sounds, through to toddlers with a million questions and onto pre-teens and teenagers developing life skills and coping with their problems.
When we listen to our children we are demonstrating love, even if we disagree with their position or are ready to help correct them. Listening means that we respect our children which means that they grow up feeling loved and respected which sets them up for an easier time as adults. Also, if we want our children to listen to us, then we must listen to them!
3. Make Sure Your Child Understands You
Children do not process information and language in the same manner as an adult. This is not because they are purposely ignoring us. It is because their neurological system is underdeveloped. When we speak to children we must ensure that they hear and understand us, by clarifying with them and getting them to repeat our instruction back.
A child will rarely respond to a parent talking to them from the other side of the room while they are engaged in something else. Making sure that we are in our childs frame of reference is a key to communicating effectively with them. If you’d like to learn more about the unique dynamics of communicating with children then pop over to my program which teaches you how to get your child to listen to you the first time.
4. Express Empathy
All behaviour is an expression of our childs emotions. Tantrums are ultimately a child (of any age) being unable to manage their emotions. Instead of reacting calmly to a situation, they yell or scream, hit, throw themselves on the ground or lock themselves in the room and slam the door. Anger, frustration, resentment, sadness, feeling scared or hurt can all come out as a tantrum.
The first step to managing big emotions is to express empathy. If we focus on the behaviour instead of the cause, then we won’t get anywhere and the tantrums will just continue, our child will not learn anything. A key phase in parenting is, “I know / understand you are feeling xyz and I’m here with you”
Everyone wants to be understood. Hold space for your child to express their emotions while being empathetic to how they are feeling and you will find that the previous “battles” that you were having become opportunities for bonding and growth.
5. Pick Your Battles
There are sometimes that we just have to pick our battles. Meal times are a perfect example of this. There isn’t a child out there who at one time or another has refused what their parent has given them to eat. We know as parents that it is important for our children to have a healthy and nutritiously balanced diet, but our kids don’t understand that. Meal times can become a battle which we feel we must “win”, which means our child must “loose”.
If it is important that a child does something particular, using the technique of a double bind can be useful. This is where you present two options for your child that both ultimately result in the same outcome. As a parent you say to your child, “you can do/have x or you can do/have y”. Your child gets to choose and feels empowered and respected by their decision and you as the parent get what you need as well. It’s a win-win situation!
6. Improve Your Parenting Skills
We don’t come into this parenting gig completely devoid of experience. Afterall we were all parented ourselves and we will often adopt the attitudes and behaviours of our own parents. However, sometimes they aren’t helpful, or in line with the type of parent we want to be.
We can seek out parenting courses, mentors, classes or workshops to help us with the areas of parenting that are challenging us, including how we feel about being a parent and about specific problematic behaviour from our children. At one stage or another we will all have to improve our parenting skills, so an open attitude to education and personal development is a must.
7. Practice Self-Care
If a mum doesn’t look after herself, then she can’t look after those around her that she loves the most. Stress management, physical and emotional self-care is essential to not only helping her get the most out her life but also for her kids. If a mum is stressed, overwhelmed or feeling resentful, then she can take her emotions out on the kids through yelling or smacking. When a parent acts this way, children don’t respond to discipline techniques as well, parenting becomes harder.
When a mum looks after her diet, engages in exercise and meditates she looks after herself and her children. Self-care has a flow-on effect to our children. Often it can be hard to find the time in a busy mums life to fit this all in. Self-care should be as much an equal priority as care of the children.
8. Set A Positive Example
The idea of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ has no place in good parenting skills. If a child is told one thing, and their parent does the other then the mixed messages they receive don’t help them learn what they need to. Why would a child behave in one way if their parents don’t? Kids learn from what they are exposed the most, which is often their parents. When a parent sets a positive example and model the behaviour that they want their children to have, the child is more likely to learn the behaviour that is expected of them.
Setting a positive example helps our children learn to develop trust. When we set a limit or a boundary and hold ourselves to the same standard as we hold them, they can trust that what we say we mean. This helps them develop a sense of security which is essential for their well-being and development.
9. Focus On Positive Behaviour
It’s too easy as parents to focus on the negative behaviour from our child. We can develop tunnel vision and each day notice only the tantrums, the screaming, the fighting, and the arguments. All the behaviour that is stressing us out. We then miss all the good times, the positive behaviour and we develop this negative attitude towards our child and we enjoy being a parent, less and less.
If we focus on negative behaviour and give our child attention when they exhibit such behaviour, then they will continue to act that way to get our attention and satisfy a need within themselves. When we focus on positive behaviour and give our child a greater amount of attention for this, then not only will they do it more to fulfill their needs but we will also enjoy our child and being a parent more.
10. Be clear and consistent
Consistency is a backbone to all parenting strategies. In order for us to be consistent with our parenting, we need to first be clear with our children about the limits and boundaries of the family. Sitting down and discussing the family rules with your children is an ideal way to start this discussion. Set up a family meeting, draw up some rules that are all agreed upon and discuss the consequences for breaking these rules. Make sure that your children understand what is expected of them. Then when they break a rule you can refer them back to the rules and the pre-determined consequence. Setting up your parenting strategies in this, while it may seem formal, allows for everyone to understand what is expected of them.
In two-parent households, and in co-parenting families, it is important to have all parents on the same page. When children get mixed messages from one parent saying one thing, and the other saying another, it is it confusing for the child. They don’t learn what they need to learn. Tensions can become raised between the parents creating an environment that is not conducive to calm, gentle and effective parenting.
Being a parent is one of the hardest and most rewarding things we can ever do. Including these 10 parenting skills into your parenting toolbox and implementing them into your life will make life easier for everyone involved.
What other skills can you think of that help you be a parent? Leave a comment below or get in contact with me to have a chat about how these good parenting strategies can work for you.