Parenting is something that human beings have been doing since there have been human beings. Yet it is still one of the most discussed, debated, and analyzed topics. Some people believe that they have parenting perfectly figured out. But these people are definitely in the minority.
In the age of social media, the need to be a “perfect” parent is so much stronger. Especially for women. But this pressure only makes things worse. And makes parents feel guilty for not being perfect.
But human beings aren’t perfect. So there is no such thing as being a perfect parent. But there are definitely ways to be a good parent.
What Makes A Good Parent
Being a good parent is the main concern of pretty much every parent. When you first have your child, it can feel strange that someone is allowing you to be in charge of another human being’s life. But, if you are concerned about this, then you’re already on the right track.
The main thing children require is unconditional love. And unconditional love that they are aware of. Children need to know that they are loved and supported. This can be through feeding them healthy meals, playing with them, helping them with homework, or just by telling them.
Showing small acts of love to your children is essential. But so is directly telling them. Loving your child is an absolutely essential part of being a parent. But so is showing them that you love them.
Being a good parent also means openly communicating with your child. As well as listening to them. It also means protecting them to the best of your ability. Good parenting simply means helping a human being grow and develop into a good, kind, and happy person.
Why Good Parenting Is Important To Your Child
Some people do not believe that the way they were raised had any impact on them. And this may be true. But parenting can have a huge impact on how your child develops. Especially when it comes to interacting with others. As well as other behavioral issues.
If a child is not raised and shown how to be respectful and kind, they will potentially grow up to be a selfish and disrespectful adult. Sometimes, even if you do parent a child well, they make the decision when older to be this sort of person. But parenting doesn’t finish when your child turns 18. So you can still help them.
Good parenting is also essential for your child’s health. This includes their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. As a parent, you are essentially a buffer between your child and harm. You cannot protect them from everything, of course. But there are still ways that you can protect your child to the best of your abilities.
20 Tips On How To Be A Good Parent
1. Guide & Support Your Child, Not Push Them
As a parent, you want your child to reach their full potential. But this doesn’t mean telling them what to do. Or pushing them into doing things that they don’t enjoy. Especially when it comes to extracurricular activities.
If your child doesn’t want to go to their dance lessons anymore, then sit them down and ask them why. They might just not enjoy them anymore. In which case, tell them that they can stop going and choose a different activity.
This will stop your child from seeing exercise as something they have to force themselves to do. Making movement fun is so important. It will help your child to foster a better relationship with movement and exercise.
But there could be another reason why they don’t want to go. And just don’t feel as though they can tell you. This could be because they have fallen out with another child. Or any other reason. It’s important to allow your child to tell you what is going on. With you listening to them properly.
This allows them to feel control over their life. But know that you are willing and able to help and support them. It also allows them to know that you won’t get mad or tell them that they have to go either way.
2. Don’t Over-Restrict Your Child’s Freedom
Control is always an issue when it comes to parenting. One of the best descriptions of being a parent is feeling as though your heart has been removed from your body, and you are watching it walk around.
You will feel an immense need to protect your child. Especially when they are young. But if you continuously stop them from doing things, then they will begin to feel as though they are not capable on their own.
You need to protect your child. But you also need to let them know that they can do things themselves. This can be something as simple as allowing them to choose what kind of snack they want. Or where to go on the weekend.
These are small things. But they will allow your child to be in control of their time. And teach them that they do not have to rely on you for absolutely everything. If they are stuck when you ask them a question like this, then you can offer up suggestions. They can still choose something. But they know that you are there to help them when needed.
3. Be Mindful Of What You Say Around Your Child
It can be difficult to watch what you say in front of your child. Especially if you’re angry or upset and words just come flying out. Even if you aren’t speaking directly to them. Children pick up on so much more than we realize.
This includes general feelings and attitudes. So, if you’re feeling especially stressed, find an outlet for that. It is, of course, a bad idea to bury it. But speak to a friend, your partner if you have one, or even a therapist. This is much better than allowing your children to pick up on these feelings.
It’s not a good idea to completely restrict discussing topics with or in front of your child. Just make sure that you are conscious of exactly what you’re saying. For example, it’s okay to talk about money around your child. But if you’re concerned about your finances, it’s best to keep this away from your child. It is not their responsibility to worry about money. Especially as they are powerless to change your position.
It is okay to be honest with them about these issues. For example, you can tell them if something is too expensive. This will stop them from wondering why you’re just saying “no”. But don’t bring them into your worries.
Another really important subject to be mindful of is food, weight, and body image. Children, especially girls, are highly susceptible to these issues. And talking negatively about food and how you feel about your body can be easily picked up on by your child. Your child will already be picking up on cultural commentary around body image and weight. So it’s important to be conscious of the attitudes that you present.
4. Try Not to Be Angry, Mean Or Unkind to Your Child
The way you speak to your child will impact how they feel about both themselves and you. Remember that, for much of your child’s life, you will be much bigger than them. Having someone towering over them and shouting is scary.
Sometimes, it can be an issue of safety. If your child is about to touch a hot stove, shouting and pulling them away is natural. But the most important thing is to speak to them afterward. Explain to them why you acted like that. And why they must not touch the stove. Otherwise, they will just become upset and think they have been bad. When really, they didn’t know better.
Even when they do know better, this could be symptomatic of a bigger issue. If your child has behavioral problems, then it’s worth speaking to a professional. Or just to your pediatrician.
It shouldn’t need to be said. But being mean or unkind to your child should never be an option. Some parents believe that this will “toughen up” their child. Or teach them that the “world is unkind”. But this isn’t what they will learn. All they will learn is that their parents are unkind. And will feel as though they are not loved nor even liked. This can be hugely detrimental to their health, wellbeing, and happiness.
5. Apologize When You Make a Mistake
This is difficult for a lot of parents. It’s natural to want to appear infallible in front of your child. Some parents want their children to see them as a superhero. Whereas others feel that they will not be listened to nor respected by their child if they admit to making a mistake. But it is important that your children know that you are human. Especially if they were hurt or upset as a result of your mistake.
It’s important to be honest and open with your child. So, if you do something wrong or regret something, then apologize. This can just be saying sorry if you snap as your child. Saying that you are sorry and explaining that you were tired or upset will help them understand. Especially if they were not the cause of this. Otherwise, they might think that they have done something wrong.
Apologizing to your child will also teach them how to apologize. If they know that you have done something wrong and didn’t say sorry, then why should they? “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a good parenting technique. Your child will respect you a lot more if you can admit to making a mistake and apologize.
If you make apologizing a normal part of life, then it will become the same for them. This will show them that you should never be too proud to accept wrongdoing. Which will help them in later life. And it will help the other people in their life. Such as their siblings, any future partners, and their own future children, should they have any.
6. Try to Discipline Without Punishment
The idea that you need to punish your child for doing something “wrong” or “bad” is misguided. You are teaching your child the difference between right and wrong. But they should not be punished when they are “bad”.
This is especially true if they have not been taught what is right or wrong. If your child does something that they do not know is wrong and are punished, they will not learn anything. It takes children a while to understand the consequences of their actions.
For example, if they snatch a toy from their sibling. They will simply think to themselves “I want this, so I’m going to take it.” Without understanding why this is wrong. Or why it will upset their sibling. And they very likely do not have an understanding of fairness.
It’s important to explain to your child why they should not do something. If you know that they understand the consequences of their actions and are doing it anyway, then it is time to discipline them. But this can be something like not having TV time. This is a direct consequence of them refusing to be fair to their siblings.
But do not just do this for the sake of it. Explain to your child why it is happening. And see if they understand. If they are genuinely sorry and apologize, then you can reinstate their TV time. But any other kind of punishment, such as shutting them in their room or sending them to bed without dinner, is unnecessary.
This is cruel and can potentially harm them. Denying your child the ability to socialize or eat can have a serious impact on their development. And if they are not told what they have done wrong, then they will only be confused. And not understand why you are acting in this way. Remember that your child does not have the same lived experience as you. They are learning all these things for the first time.
7. No Matter What, Don’t Ever Spank Your Kids
There is no leeway on this matter. Spanking your children is cruel, unnecessary, and unhelpful. It will not teach them anything. And it will only make them fear you. It is an extremely old-fashioned belief that children should fear their parents. Especially their fathers. But this will not help them to develop and become kind adults. Spanking is abusive and should never be done.
8. Observe Your Child and Let Them Do What They’re Interested In
Remember that your child is always learning. Especially when they are small. Every day they will come across something that they have never seen or heard before. Allow them to ask questions and be curious.
Curiosity is a wonderful thing that not everyone takes with them into their adult lives. When playing with your child, let them choose what to do. You might find that they love sports, painting, or singing. These are all wonderful things. Try not to force your own hobbies and interests on your child.
Your child might want to copy you. But they might be completely different from you. Remember that one of the main parts of parenting is helping your child discover their own personality. You are there to help them and support them in developing their own sense of self.
9. Try To Be A Good Role Model
Being a good role model doesn’t mean that your child has to see you as a superhero. But it’s important that you demonstrate how to be a kind, considerate, loving, and thoughtful person. Your child will often mimic you. And they will assume whatever you do is correct.
This means showing them good traits. But it can also mean hiding bad ones. We all have our flaws. And at times it is useful for our children to know this. However, it’s best to hide any bad habits. This can include not smoking around your children (this is also terrible for their health). But it can also include not allowing them to see when you drink or eat an unbalanced and unhealthy diet.
As a parent, sometimes you are so tired that any food is welcome at any time. But make sure that they see you eating healthy food. Then, once they’ve gone to bed, you can have that piece of cake that you have been desperate for all day.
10. Walk The Talk
This is similar to the tip above. Don’t tell your child not to do something and then do it yourself. They will not have the ability to differentiate between you being allowed to do something as an adult and them not being allowed to.
Of course, sometimes there are things that they need to be told are for adults only. This includes driving, drinking, wearing makeup, and many other things. But, for smaller things, it’s best to lead by example.
This can be something small such showing your child that you always eat your veggies. Or it can be by showing them how to safely cross the road. Your child will assume you are right and follow your example.
So don’t tell them to wait for the road to clear before crossing. Then, when you’re in a rush, tell them to hurry across it. This is confusing for your child. And they will be unsure of the correct thing to do. And potentially question whether they should listen to you. Which can be dangerous in situations as serious as crossing the road.
11. Always, Always Make Time For Your Child
Life is difficult to balance at the best of times. And it can be difficult to factor your children in sometimes. Especially if you are a woman. Women are constantly told that they have to have it all. While also being told that they can never have it all. As well as be a perfect mother, look stunning all the time, and be the glue that holds the family together.
But it is important to show your child that they are your priority. This should not be all the time. If, for example, your child is demanding your attention when you’re on the phone, tell them to wait. If it is an emergency, you will likely be able to tell. But it’s important for them to know that not everyone is at their disposal whenever they want them.
The key is to speak to them once you hang up the phone. Make time for your child. And never dismiss them. But you should also not allow them to take up your entire life. Do not give up your sense of self to become “Mom” or “Dad”. You are still a person in your own right.
12. Communicate With Your Child
In every relationship, communication is key. This is especially true when speaking with your child. It is your responsibility to essentially keep your child alive. But it is also your responsibility to teach your child.
This can be simple things such as where milk comes from. Or it can be bigger and more complicated questions. Children love to ask questions. And as mentioned above, curiosity is to be encouraged.
But it is also important to explain other things to your child. This can be explaining why they aren’t allowed to do something dangerous. For example, if your child is playing close to the top of the stairs.
If your child refuses to move when told, then you need to explain that they will likely fall and hurt themselves if they don’t listen. “Because I said so” might be the most tempting answer. But it isn’t really helpful. Even if you don’t feel you can explain in the moment. It is good to sit down and explain this to your child later on.
13. Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem
As mentioned above, your child can develop issues around body image, their sense of self, and self-esteem from a very young age. So it is always important to encourage your child. But it is also important to find a balance.
It is important to tell your child that they are capable, that they are clever, and they can do so many different things. But it is also important not to give them a false sense of entitlement. It is good to foster their interests and encourage them in their abilities.
But it is also important for them to know that other people are also intelligent and competent and can do many different things. This will also help them to understand jealousy. And become a supportive friend.
14. Teach Your Child To Be A Good Person
Just as there is no one way to be a good parent, there is no one way to be a good person. But so long as you raise your child to be kind, caring, and considerate, you won’t go wrong. It is important to teach your child to be kind to others. But also to themselves.
And they should never be any of these things at the expense of themselves. Being “good” is subjective. So long as they are kind, they will be okay.
15. Be Your Child’s Safety & Comfort Zone
No matter the age of your child, you should always be a place of safety, support, and comfort for them. Even when they are grown adults, they will still need you. We all need a place where we feel safe, listened to, loved, and supported.
And not every child has this in their home. So it is important that your child can always come to you whenever they need to. They should always know that they can tell you anything. And that you are always there to help.
16. Get Your Child Involved In What You Love To Do
Encouraging your child to pursue their own interests is important. But first they need to be exposed to different interests. Every parent wants their child to be interested in the same things they are.
This won’t always be the case. But getting your child involved in your hobbies and interests can help them work out what they enjoy doing. As well as what they don’t enjoy doing.
This can also help you and your child to bond. Having a shared interest will allow you and your child to retain a bond throughout your entire lives.
17. Connect With Your Child And Participate In Their Activities and Interests
Once your child has begun to develop their own hobbies and interests, it’s a good idea to get involved with them as well. This will let them know that they are doing something good. And will let them know that you will support their interests.
But this should only be to an extent. It is also important for your child to do things for themselves. This means, for example, attending your child’s soccer games. Rather than getting involved in the game as well.
You can play with them at the weekend or whenever they want to. But when it comes to organized hobbies, it’s best to avoid getting too involved. Else they will feel as though you don’t think they can do things for themselves.
18. Show To Your Child That Your Love Is Unconditional
This is the simplest but most essential tip on this list. While you might know that your love is unconditional. Your child needs to know this as well. So it is important to show your child how much you love them. As well as tell them.
This will allow them to trust you and know that you will always be there for them. So they will not be scared to tell you if they have done something wrong. Or feel too embarrassed to ask for help.
19. Be Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style
This is a big ask. But it is one to constantly consider. When you become a parent, you will find that you have many instincts when it comes to parenting. But sometimes you might be naturally repeating the actions of your parents.
This isn’t always a bad thing. But it’s important to always be conscious of how you are parenting. Think about why you are doing something and how it will have an effect on your child. Both in that moment and throughout their life.
It is also important to listen to others. If, for example, your child’s teacher tells you that they have been misbehaving. If they recommend that you take a certain approach to help rectify this, then it is important to consider it. And never feel too proud to change.
20. Know Your Own Needs As a Parent As Well
As a parent, you feel as though you would give up anything for your child. But draining yourself for their sake is not helpful for them, nor for yourself. It is vital that you ask for help when you need it.
You might not realize it, but you very likely have a support system of family and friends. Who are ready and willing to help. If only you have the courage to ask.
It is also important to ensure that your children do not become your entire identity. Remember that you are your own independent person. You have your own thoughts, needs, feelings, and desires. All of which are valid. And do not need to be dismissed now that you are a parent.
There is no one way to be a “good” parent. And every child is different. If you have a child with, for example, autism, you might read these suggestions and not think many of them will work for your child.
And this is okay. So long as your child is loved, knows that they are loved, and are protected, then you’re doing a good job!
So long as you try your best, give yourself a break, and help support your child to become their own independent person, then you’re doing it right.