Raising kids does take skill – as well as patience, stamina and lots of love! We recently shared how feeling confident that you have the skills to raise your kids well means that you probably will.
But what parenting skills are important?
Robert Epstein, a researcher and professor in psychology, writing in Scientific American, describes the parenting skills that can really help you raise happy and healthy kids. Here are the top 10.
1. Love and affection: You support and accept your child, are physically affectionate, and spend quality one-on-one time together.
2. Stress management: You take steps to reduce stress for yourself and your child, practise relaxation techniques, and think positively.
3. Relationship skills: You maintain a healthy relationship with your partner, significant other or co-parent, and model good relationship skills.
4. Autonomy and independence: You treat your child with respect and encourage him or her to become self-sufficient and self-reliant.
5. Education and learning: You promote and model learning, and provide educational opportunities for your child.
6. Life skills: You provide for your child, have a steady income, and plan for the future.
7. Behaviour management: You make extensive use of positive reinforcement, and reprimand only when other methods of managing behaviour have failed.
8. Health: You model a healthy lifestyle and good habits, such as regular exercise and healthy eating.
9. Religion: You support spiritual or religious development, and participate in spiritual or religious activities.
10. Safety: You take precautions to protect your child and maintain awareness of the child’s activities and friends.
What interests me most about this list of parenting skills is that behaviour management, which so many of us focus on, is not as important as other factors.
Much more important than how well you can ‘manage’ your children’s behaviour is your ability to show love and affection, manage your own stress, and have a loving relationship with your partner.
Your ability to help your children learn important life skills that encourage them to be independent, whether it’s learning to sleep, go to the toilet, or tidy their room, is also an important part of being a parent.
Yes, parenting does involve some skill. But the most important skills are loving your kids, managing your own stress, and teaching your kids to be loving and independent themselves.
The good news is that Epstein’s research showed that, of all the skills, parents found being loving and affectionate one of the easiest to master. Now we just need to learn how to manage our stress better!
Jodie Benveniste is a psychologist and parenting author. You can find more parenting inspiration at parentwellbeing.com.