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The 10 Best Parenting Tips for Children of All Ages

Mom and dad kissing baby's cheeks

Wouldn’t it be great if kids came with manuals that told you exactly what to do and what not to do in order to raise a great kid? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but, if you’ve found your way here, you’re pretty close.

As someone who studied both children and behavior and now works with children as a behavior technician, I have learned about and seen my fair share. Now, what I say here is not the same thing as true clinical advice (you would need a behavior analyst to work directly with your child for that). Think of it more as your guide on your path to great kids.

In this article, I’m going to run through the best parenting tips that I have learned over the years. No two children are the same, so some of these may not work for your child, but they’re pretty general bits of advice, so you should be good to go. So, without further adieu…

1) Forgive and Forget

Your kids are going to do things that make you angry. They might even do things that hurt your physically without even realizing it. Kids’ frontal lobes are still developing. The frontal lobe is responsible for impulse control, which is why little ones are so impulsive.

Dad hugging baby girl in a field with a mountain in the backgroundYour child could be having such a great time and be so worked up that they throw their toy and hit you with it. No matter how angry you are, or how much it hurt, do your best to forgive and forget. Explain to them what they did was wrong, provide them with a behavior that is a better choice, and have them apologize.

As soon as they apologize, let them know that you accept their apology and move on. It can be really hard to go from being angry and in pain to playing around with your child again, but you really should try.

They will learn that they did something wrong and should do it differently next time, but they will also see that you will forgive them and they don’t need to be afraid.

The exception to this is when you’re dealing with an older child or teenager. If they do something wrong, still explain that it was wrong and tell them what they can do better next time, but then give them a little space to process and regroup.

It is important to let your child have their feelings too. They may not want to be best friends again right away. They may want some space and as long as they go about this respectfully, they should be allowed to take it.

2) Use Positive Reinforcement as Often as Possible

I have written a detailed article that defines and explains positive reinforcement, so I will just give a short reiteration here.

If you want your child to keep doing the really awesome things you love to see, you need to reinforce them. Tell them very specifically that they did a good job with whatever it is they were doing (e.g., “you did such a good job cleaning up all of your toys!”). Give them tangible rewards (more when they’re young, less when they’re older) to keep them motivated.

The more you reinforce your child, the more they will perform that behavior and the stronger your relationship will be.

3) Give Your Child Attention

Mother kissing teenage daughter's cheekYes, every parent pays attention to their child, but the kind I am talking about is very intentional and specific.

Say your child is coloring. Don’t wait for them to say “look at what I drew!” Take a moment to see what they’re doing and say things like “I see you over there coloring! You’re using so many colors” Talk to them about the specifics of what they’re doing. Engage with them and let them know you are with them.

This is different from positive reinforcement because you’re not necessarily praising them for doing anything. Yes, attention can be positively reinforcing, but you’re not specifically saying things like, “I like how you’re being so quiet” or “you’re doing such a good job coloring.”

This just lets your child know that you are interested in and invested in what they’re doing.

4) Remain Calm

This goes hand-in-hand with forgive and forget. You’re going to get angry. It’s inevitable. It’s your job as a parent to try to remain as calm as possible in those situations.

Yelling is actually less effective than remaining calm and explaining. Children do not respond well to being yelled at. They shut down and anything you say does not stick. You could be saying exactly what they need to hear but they probably won’t hear it.

Instead, take a few deep breaths and explain to them why you’re angry. Your words can be stern in order to convey that what they did was wrong, but stay as calm as you possibly can.

If you do yell, give yourself and your child some space to calm down. When everyone is calm and ready to talk, apologize for yelling but tell them what they did was wrong.

5) Keep Explanations Short & Sweet

When you do explain to your child what they did wrong, be as succinct as possible, especially when they’re young. Don’t get bogged down in details.

Tell them exactly what they did to make you angry and only that. Don’t pull things from the past because that’s over with. Tell them what they did in that moment to make you angry and then tell them what they need to do better next time.

That’s it. It doesn’t have to be a full-on trial. It can be over and done with in a matter of minutes. You and your child will both be thankful for this.

6) Be the Right Kind of Model

Children are sponges. We know this. We’ve seen this. That whole, “do as I say, not as I do” thing doesn’t really work. Nine times out of ten, kids will do what you do before they do what you say.

Anything you want them to do or say in life, they need to see you do first. If you want them to speak kindly to others, speak kindly to them and around them. You are their teacher for how to handle the world.

You can also teach older siblings to be the right kind of model for younger siblings. Explain to them that their little sibling looks up to them and likes to do what they do, so they should try to do the best they can.

If you work hard, speak kindly, help others, and be the best person you can be, there’s a good chance your child will follow suit.

7) Talk About Your Feelings Often

Too many people in this world are hiding their feelings out of fear or embarrassment. If you start talking about feelings with your child at an early age, that will become their norm. They will not be afraid to come to you when they’re sad or hurt. They will not bottle it all up and possibly end up with depression or anxiety.

I cannot stress this one enough. Tell them about your feelings and ask them about theirs every day.

Check out my article 6 Children’s Books Discussing Mental Health for easy ways to talk to your children about feelings.

8) Stick to Your Word

Follow through. Follow through. Follow through. I can’t express this enough! You need to follow though… on the good and the bad.

Kids are incredibly fast learners. If you say something like, “don’t throw that again or you’re going to your room” and they throw it again, bring them to their room. It doesn’t need to be for hours, it could be for 2 minutes (depending on their age), but you have to follow through. If they throw it again and nothing happens, they just learned that what your say really doesn’t matter because there’s a chance they will get away with it.

The same goes for good promises. If they got that good grade, take them out to dinner like you said you would. This ensures that they will continue to work hard and keep performing that behavior (positive reinforcement again). It will also build trust between the two of you. Your child will come to trust your word and know that you will stay true to your promises.

Yes, there are times when good promises cannot be kept, but always strive to make it happen. If you can’t make it happen right then and there, do your best to make it happen sometime in the near future.

9) Demand Respect but Give Respect

Never allow your child to speak disrespectfully to you or to others. When they do, firmly tell them that those types of things will not be tolerated. Tell them that they may express their frustrations or unhappiness freely, but they must do so with respect.

In return, you must respect your child. As I said before, follow through on what you say and give them the space they ask for. If you model respect for your child, they will show respect in return.

10) Listen

Mom holding infant kneeling down on hiking path to talk to toddlerListen to what your children have to say. Show them that what they think matters. Even if you have no idea what they’re talking about or it seems silly to you, listen.

If your child is lucky enough to find their passion at a young age, listen to every word they have to say about it and help them learn and foster that passion. I don’t care if their passion is toasters, just listen.

Listen when they’re sad. Listen when they’re happy. Listen to whatever it is they want to say to you.

When you listen, you’re giving them attention, positive reinforcement, and teaching them how to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Listening is invaluable.

 

If you have any questions or parenting tips of your own, feel free to comment below.

Taylor

16 Comments

  1. Thank you for such a wonderful post on parenting tips for childrens . You are as a good psychologist as a good writer.

    any parents get angry because of their children’s faults and most of the time they punish them using physical punishments which is wrong. Children need love and when they made mistake talk to them and show them what is wrong and show them what would be the best way to do things. When they did good things use lovely words such as good son, lovely daughter …and tell them to keep it up.

    Parenting is a school, we have to study and put in practice what we learnt.I am happy with this post really. I am a parent and a teacher too. You made my day.

    • I’m so happy to hear that you have learned from my post! You’re right when you say parenting is a school. I’ve actually never heard of it put that way but I love it!

      As you said, physical punishment is not the way to go. It can be effective for that specific behavior, but it is almost guaranteed that it will lead to an increase in other problematic behaviors as well as psychological issues.

      Using positive reinforcement is the best way to go and I see that you completely understand that! Great job!

  2. Children watch us and learn. Their character shapes at an early age and simple behaviors can help them develop a much stronger and independent character.

    On the other hand, they are very sensitive and our bad behavior can lead to long-term issues for them.

    I can’t be more agree with you about your list. For example, giving children attention and forgiving them is necessary to satisfy their emotional needs. Otherwise, it is highly possible that they face emotional problems later. Thank you.

    • The foundation for all of our behavior is laid when we are still very young. We want that foundation to be strong and sturdy from the beginning instead of trying to play catch-up later on.

      Giving attention and forgiveness is crucial to avoid things like resentment, unhappiness, depression, and more.

      Thank you so much for reading my article! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Some great tips you’ve covered here, and I’d say the most important, and commonly ignored are the staying calm and the forgive and forget. 

    I don’t care who you are, or how often a person claims to never lose their rag with their kids – it happens, to every parent! It has to – it’s nature!

    Raising children is the most important job you’ll ever do, therefore it come with pressure, and it’s near enough impossible to stay calm at times. 

    Love this article and love the way you’ve approached each point you highlight. 

    Chris. 

    • Chris, thanks for giving my article a read! Staying calm is easy to forget, especially in the heat of the moment. Any parent that says they never yell is probably lying. It happens. The best thing to do though is go back later when everyone is calm and apologize for yelling and calmly explain the situation.

      It’s important to apologize to your kids so they know that you’re human too and that you mess up. This will help them to not feel the need to be perfect.

  4. Hi,

    This was a great article with very useful tips. Some of them seem obvious but many people do forget about them.

    I appreciate it so much that you mentioned that yelling to children doesn’t work. I remember that as a child when somebody yelled at me I just simply didn’t pay attention. I think many children would just keep doing that thing when you are not looking and they can get away with it.

    I think it can be very damaging to a child’s behavior if they are not respected. They will learn that they can’t express their opinions even when they are right and even if it would add value to a conversation. What do you think about this?

    • Lona, I think you’re absolutely right! If an adult shows no respect for the child as they are growing, they will not gain the respect and confidence in themselves that they need to succeed. If what they say is not heard or appreciated, they will most certainly learn that they can’t express their opinion or won’t because they don’t believe what they say matters.

      These tips are quite simple, but, as you said, so many people forget them. It’s nice to be reminded of the little things because they’re often the easiest to forget.

  5. this is really good advice either for new parents or even experiences parents which for the latter is a good refresher.

    Parenting is the hardest job in the world full of frustrations at times which can turn in a heartbeat to pride,joy and so much love.

    I think the steps you have written about do. Ring back m a lot of memories as my kids are teenagers now but can these steps be implemented for teenagers? 

    • Oh, absolutely Darren. The teenage years are some of the hardest, so these tips can often apply more than ever. It can be difficult to get a teenager to talk about their feelings, especially if it wasn’t something they grew up with, but it can be done if you talk to them consistently about yours and ask about theirs.

      Positive reinforcement applies to all ages and across all settings. It just looks different from age to age. Praising your child for doing a good job is a form of positive reinforcement, so try to tell your child how proud you are of them often.

      You can give them attention by saying things like, “I see how hard you’re study/practicing/etc.”

      Following through is also critical at this age because they are starting to experiment with who they are. Give them the room they need to do that, but stick to your word to ensure they remain respectful of you and trust that your word still holds meaning.

  6. What a powerful article!! I couldn’t agree more with every single point you made here.  I especially love the “follow through” section. I know so many parents who never follow through and their kids like walk all over them because they know they’ll get away with it. A lot of parents just give in because they don’t want to deal with their kids.

      I was once watching a friends kid who gets away with murder from her mom.  He kept swearing and I told him, do it again and you’re going to your room.  Well, he did it, and I sent him to his room.  As he was walking down there, he says ‘I don’t care, I’m just going to play video games anyways.”, so I turned off the breaker to his room so he didn’t have power.  He was only in there for about 20 min and it was during the day, so it’s not like he was sitting in the dark.   The next time I was watching him, he was in his room playing vids, and I told him dinner was in 20 min.  Twenty minutes later he’s still up there.  I told him again, “you have 5 min to get downstairs for dinner, then you can go back up to play vids.”.  Ten mins later I went upstairs and he told me that he didn’t want to come down and I couldn’t make him.  I told him he had 1 min to get downstairs or I was going to turn off the internet….he came down in 30 seconds LOL

    • Nicki, great follow through! It certainly is one of the hardest to do and many parents don’t. Then, like you said, their kids will walk all over them because they’re actually in charge. The adult’s word loses its value and the child’s actions gain all of the value.

      It’s not all that difficult to break the cycle though. As you saw, you followed through before so he knew you would follow through again. Keeping consistency like that switches the power back to the adult and let’s the child know their boundaries while also teaching respect.

  7. Hello there,

    parenting is a tough and challenging task but a very revarding one at the same time. It requires a lot of dedication, courage and patience but all of this hard work in the end can reward You, as a parent in most spectacular and heart warming way there is! At the end of the day, child is a beautiful creation and to see it happy and succesful is one of the most fulfillingfeeling there is! Thank You for this beautiful article with lots of very helpful tips, You’ve done a great job! I really admire how You explained that ”listening to what Your children has to say gives them Your attention, positive reinforcement, and teaches them how to talk about their thoughts and feelings”, very meaningful and inspiring quote by You Taylor! Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! Raising a kind, prepared, and well-adjusted child is a success for any parent. Out of the 10 tips, I feel like listening to your child is the most important. You can’t do anything for your child if you don’t listen. You may have very good intentions behind something you do, but it may not be what the child needs. If you listen to your child, you will always know what it is they need.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful article on the 10 best parenting tips for children of all ages.

    These are some of the best tips to be given as a parent. Because kids are so unpredictable. But the best part about them is you have to respect them and their needs to because they still in the learning process.

    The best current Egypt  I’ve seen yet is when you have to be honest with your kids because that makes them respect you more as a parent.

    Thank God is great article on 10 best parenting tips for children of all ages.

    • Quinn, I’m glad you liked the article. It is definitely important to respect kids because, like I said, they do what their parents do. If you model respect, they will show respect. You’re also right in that children are still learning, so it is imperative to show them the way, but give them the space they need to explore and become their own person.

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