There’s a lot of books, videos, podcasts, and everything in between when looking for caregiver resources. You may feel like there’s so much to learn and master regarding your parenting abilities.
But the fact of the matter is that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” parent. So even when you’re facing a new developmental stage and feeling doubtful about your parenting style, it’s important to remember that you possess everything you need inside yourself to be the best caregiver to your kids.
Here, we break down seven helpful ways to improve the parenting skills you use every day so that you can continue to positively impact your child’s life and grow on your parenting journey.
#1 The Art of Communication
Communication is the foundation of effective parenting. It helps us understand and connect, also shaping how your child sees themselves and the world.
To apply positive parenting techniques, try to build your communication skills by trying to:
- Ask open-ended questions
- Listen attentively, putting your full attention into the conversation
- Listen without judgment and keep an open mind
- Avoid sarcasm, shaming, and blaming
#2 Active Listening
If you’ve ever felt frustrated that your child doesn’t listen to you, it may help to think about how you listen to them. Using active listening with your child demonstrates positive discipline and can build a stronger sense of connection and trust over time.
To use active listening with your child:1
- Attunement to physical cues – Helps caregivers identify if eye contact or talking slower or faster helps your child feel more comfortable while you listen. This shows you’re fully present in the conversation.
- Put yourself on your child’s level – Kneel in front of them, or sit and invite them to sit with you.
- Reflect on their emotions and words – Reflecting doesn’t mean you agree. It simply shows that you hear and see them. You might say, “I see you’re sad your brother has the toy you want.” Or if you’re uncertain about what’s causing the outburst, you could say, “I see how upset you are. Can you tell me more?”
#3 Role Modeling
We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. In parenting, this means that your children learn just as much—or more—about how to construct their behavior by watching what you do, rather than what you say.2
Role modeling can include:
- How you react to frustration and disappointment
- The attitude you show about chores and work
- How you express positive attention, such as gratitude, love, and appreciation
- Your self-care habits: getting exercise, eating well, and being kind to yourself
#4 Emotional Intelligence
Emotional well-being and intelligence means recognizing, understanding, and responding appropriately to feelings—your own and those of people around you. It’s also one of the most important parenting skills you can learn.
To help both you and your child build emotional intelligence and mutual respect, try to:3
- Share positive feelings, like joy, gratitude, and optimism
- Model handling negative emotions appropriately, without yelling, shutting down,lashing out, or any other unwanted behavior
- Practice naming your feelings, and help your child do the same
Children thrive when they feel secure and safe. Part of this is knowing that their caregivers are reliable, expectations are predictable, and rules are consistent.2
To practice consistency with your child, you can:
- Make rules clear and realistic
- Establish a household routine (for meal times, bedtimes, chore expectations, etc.)
- Explain the reasons for your rules and routines
- Follow your rules consistently and fairly
- Avoid making promises or threatening consequences that won’t happen
Modeling flexibility helps your child learn creative problem-solving, positive behavior, resilience, and open-mindedness.
When it comes to flexibility, try to lead by example. Aim to:
- Be adaptable – Demonstrate good behavior by showing young children that it’s okay when things don’t go to plan. For example, rather than getting mad when you can’t get tickets to a sporting event, you might head to the park looking for games to play with kids outside instead.
- Try new things – Model trying new hobbies, trying new foods, and going to new places.
- Avoid perfectionism – This goes for how you treat your child and yourself. When you make a mistake, be kind to yourself. There’s no better way to show your child self-acceptance and that it’s okay to be imperfect.
#7 Showing Love
A loving parent-child relationship is key to raising a confident, healthy, and well-adjusted child. You may think your love for your child is obvious, but every child could use more reassurance and positive reinforcement.
- Showing your love with quality time – Play games together, cook together, take them out for a special meal. Make sure you have one-on-one time with each child regularly for healthy development. This also helps avoid any form of family favoritism.
- Showing your love with words – Tell them “I love you” often and sincerely. Put notes in their lunchbox or jacket pocket.
- Showing your love with affection – Physical affection reduces stress and helps brain development.4 Make sure to give lots of hugs, kisses, and cuddles daily (as long as your child wants them).
How to Adapt to These Parenting Skills
There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for learning parenting skills; change won’t happen overnight. With that in mind, here are some tips for practicing these skills:
- Start small. Pick one skill to work on, and focus on that for a while. Don’t try to change everything at once.
- Set realistic goals. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of “I want to communicate better,” try “I want to ask my child at least one open-ended question daily.”
- Learn from mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself what went wrong and how to approach it differently next time.
- Do self-care for parents. You may have heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and that’s especially true when parenting. You’ll be better equipped to take care of your child by taking care of yourself. Try talking to a counselor, journaling, or scheduling regular self-care time.
- Celebrate growth. Just as you’d clap for your child taking a small step toward a goal, celebrate your small steps. Give yourself credit for trying something new.
Connect to Grow With Slumberkins
Parenting is a life-long journey of learning and growth for both you and your child. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. But by practicing these seven good parenting skills, you can build a strong, healthy relationship with your child that will help them grow into a confident and capable adult.
When you need more parenting tools, Slumberkins is always ready to help. Featuring cuddly characters, fun activities, and engaging stories, our emotional learning books and Kins are the perfect way to help your child learn, love, and grow.
- "Active listening." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/toddlersandpreschoolers/communication/activelistening.html
- "Parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Published 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK402020/
- Legre, Albert. "Parenting styles and children’s emotional intelligence: What do we know?" Family Journal. January 2011. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Albert-Alegre/publication/258193465_Parenting_Styles_and_Children%27s_Emotional_Intelligence_What_do_We_Know
- Brauer, Jens et al. “Frequency of Maternal Touch Predicts Resting Activity and Connectivity of the Developing Social Brain.” Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) vol. 26,8 (2016): 3544-52. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw137