Parenthood is an immersive journey. No amount of books or courses can ever fully prepare you for the parenting skills you’ll require throughout this experience.
As your child grows up, chances are, you’ll have to adjust or learn new parenting skills. That can be overwhelming, and there’s no manual to show you how to be a good parent.
The good news is, there are good parenting skills that can help build a foundational connection between you and your little human. And when you’re able to give your child the support and guidance they need to thrive, you’re contributing to creating a more compassionate and conscious participant of the next generation.
What Are Parenting Skills?
You, as the parent, play a pivotal role in your child’s life. And your parenting skills — the ability to do something well using your knowledge and competencies — can impact the kind of person they turn out to be.
For some, these skills are innate; for others, they need to be developed. Regardless of which one is for you, it’s important to remember that no one is highly skilled at everything. It’s like that old saying, “you can’t be good at everything,” which is true when you come to think of it.
List of parenting skills
Parents, in general, want to raise happy and healthy children. And honing in on your set of skills enables you to do so.
Here’s a list of parenting skills by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Communicating effectively. Your child isn’t equipped to know how to effectively express their feelings or share thoughts. Knowing how to communicate with them will help make it easier for you to build a strong connection with them.
- Creating structure and rules. This doesn’t mean sucking the fun out of your child’s life. Rather, it’s about creating consistent routines and rules to help them maintain order and structure in their everyday lives.
- Giving directions. Providing clear directions for your child can help you have positive interactions with them.
- Using discipline and consequences. How you act or react to your child’s good or bad behavior makes a difference. Learning how to use these practices safely and consciously can help you have more good days with them.
These listed skills may be broad, but they can help lay the groundwork to connect with your child better.
Why Are Parenting Skills Important?
It’s not an overstatement to say that parents are the predictors of humanity’s future. Countless researchers have studied the importance of parenting and found that a parent’s influence on their child is profound.
Parenting is the single largest variable implicated in:
- Childhood illnesses and accidents
- Teenage pregnancy and substance misuse
- Truancy, school disruption, and underachievement
- Child abuse
- Juvenile crime
- Mental illness
How a parent raises a child directly influences their overall well-being. In fact, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Genetic Psychology suggests the parenting style that results in the least behavioral problems in children is the authoritative parenting style.
The quality of the parent-child relationship plays an important role too. According to this 2008 study published in the Journal of Research of Adolescence, the more positive the parent-child relationship is, the better the adolescent’s psychological well-being and the lower the delinquency rate.
Parents don’t just raise their offspring. They are, literally, shaping the future. And how that future develops depends on their parenting skills.
What Are the 4 Types of Parenting Styles?
Psychologist Diana Baumrind suggested that there were four distinct parenting styles, also called the Baumrind parenting styles:
- Authoritative parenting. Parents of this style are highly responsive but also have high expectations. They have strict rules but are warm and loving.
- Authoritarian parenting. On the opposite side of the spectrum, authoritarian parents are less responsive but still maintain high expectations. They demand obedience and don’t allow their children to make many decisions.
- Permissive parenting. Those who follow this style are highly responsive but don’t demand much from their children. They don’t set a lot of rules but are incredibly supportive of their children’s needs.
- Neglectful parenting. Uninvolved parents are not responsive to their children’s needs and do not set firm guidelines. They believe in a hands-off attitude and take a backseat approach to their children’s development.
In today’s generation, these styles aren’t exactly effective. “Traditional parenting is about fixing the kid, producing the kid, creating this masterpiece,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary. “Really, it’s a control-based paradigm.”
We no longer live in a world where scare tactics are the norm; rather, it’s all about “connection before correction” so that we can nurture our children’s innate wisdom for them to thrive.
What Are Qualities of a Good Parent?
Whether someone is a good parent or not is subjective. Everyone has their own ideas of what makes a good parent. And this is precisely why there’s so much contradictory parenting advice.
The best way to cut through all the noise and stay true to yourself is:
- Write down the qualities that you want to embody.
- Look for role models who demonstrate those qualities.
- Emulate your role models.
Here’s a list of role models who have raised successful children and the parenting qualities they demonstrate.
|Bill Gates||A two-parent family with three children||He uses the “Love and Logic” model that minimizes emotional reactivity and encourages parents to give kids more problems to solve and chances to fail.|
|Will Smith||A two-parent family with three children||He gives freedom to the kids to be who they are, instills self-responsibility, supports what his kids love, and respects his children.|
|Richard Branson||A two-parent family with two children||He believes that raising children is like building a business. Start before you’re ready, take a step back, and watch your children grow.|
|Jon & Missy Butcher||A two-parent family with four children||They believe in three-dimensional learning and providing children worldly experiences beyond school walls.|
|Dr. Shefali Tsabary||A two-parent family with one child||She believes parents need to grow themselves first, recognizes their child as a human with their own rights, and doesn’t emphasize grades.|
Your child, as they grow, is still learning and developing. So as long as they’re under your care, it’s important that they have a good role model with positive parenting skills to guide them through life.
7 Parenting Skills to Raise Conscious Children
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who’s also the trainer of Mindvalley’s Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest, has an arsenal of unconventional parenting skills under her belt. And we’ve distilled her most powerful ones into seven skills of how to be a good parent.
1. Treat your children as individual beings
Your children are born with their own destinies. It’s not about shaping them in your image. Or forcing them to follow your habits. It’s about guiding them to come into their in the best you can.
This means you must learn to accept your children for who they are — stripped from medals, achievements, grades, mistakes, and failures. Praise them for who they are, not for what they’ve done.
The Council of Europe agrees with Dr. Tsabary on this, too: the cornerstone of positive parenting refers to, in their words, parental behavior that respects children’s best interests and their rights.
2. Recognize your child as your teacher
When you see your child as a teacher, your ego dissolves. You’re not here to impose your wishes and unmet needs onto them. Instead, you’re here to learn from them.
Get this: children are always showing something to you. Every moment is an opportunity to grow — to learn about yourself and your child. One way to put this into practice is to pause the second you find yourself on the verge of exploding. Ask yourself, what can I learn from them and this situation?
Today, children are learning social and emotional intelligence subjects at school and are helping their parents to be better at managing their emotions.
But if parents can’t put their egos aside and learn from their children, they miss out on opportunities to connect deeply with them.
3. Let go of the happiness and success obsession
It is the obsession with happiness and success that creates unhappiness. Why? Because children continuously ride the waves of their emotions — pain, frustration, disappointment, sadness, happiness, surprise, anticipation, and more.
But when parents expect their children to do nothing but succeed, what’s being communicated is that you’re not allowed to feel sad; you need to be happy. This pressure of “I must be happy and successful” comes from a parent’s fears and leads children to live in the future without the freedom to experience the present.
And researchers agree. A mind too focused on the future is prone to anxiety and fear. What makes children truly happy is to be present in the now.
So, what do you do when your child feels sad, angry, disappointed, or frustrated? Honor where they’re at.
Acknowledge that it’s their right to feel what they feel. Help them find words to describe what they’re feeling. Support them as they ride the emotional waves. Detach yourself from their emotions.
Most importantly, be committed to being fully present in the now with them.
4. Don’t react — fill these needs instead
Besides triggering their parents’ fears, children’s behaviors also mask one of these three fundamental needs:
- Am I seen and accepted for who I am?
- Am I worthy of your attention and praise for who I am?
- Do I matter in your life?
You can begin to form deeper connections with your child when you shift your responses to meet these needs.
So, when was the last time you felt truly connected with your child? These moments of deep and profound connection signal that one or more of these three needs are being fulfilled.
Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child published a child development guide that suggests “resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism.” The essential building blocks for strengthening the capacity to do well in the face of significant adversity are due to two things:
- The reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship and
- Multiple opportunities for developing effective coping skills.
By meeting these fundamental needs, parents form trusted relationships with their children. Moreover, the relationship becomes an unshakeable foundation for the child to take risks and face life obstacles.
5. Learn to relinquish control
One controversial paradigm of parenting is discipline. When our children do something out of line, then we do what we feel is necessary to fix and correct their behavior.
“The problem is not in the intention per se,” says Dr. Shefali. “The problem is in the execution.”
The traditional parenting paradigm suggests that children will learn through the infliction of pain, be it emotionally, mentally, or physically. However, Dr. Shefali explains that this method isn’t a teaching strategy but an adult temper tantrum.
So it’s imperative, as the parent, for you to be mindful of your speech and thoughts. Notice how you engage with your child.
And as you become more aware of your “temper tantrums,” you can begin to shift them into a more conscious way of parenting.
6. Place conscious boundaries
Boundaries are typically associated with giving other people limits, like “you can’t watch TV on a school night” or “don’t disturb me while I’m cooking dinner.” However, to create a stronger, deeper connection between you and your child, it’s really important to understand your own internal boundaries.
It’s about letting others know what your needs, values, and personality are. It’s a place where you end and your child starts, and how you both can move towards the same goal as a family.
For example, if you value bonding time with your child, set a certain hour in the day for that. Ensure that you do it consistently so that they know this is the special time you two get to focus on each other without distractions.
As Dr. Shefali explains, when it comes to conscious boundaries, “the focus is less on blaming the kids and it is more on us taking responsibility for the energy with which we set up the conditions.”
7. Create win-win situations
Negotiation is a powerful skill that children should learn. Because life isn’t unilateral, they will inevitably have to go out into the world and negotiate. So they might as well learn how to at home.
Dr. Shefali suggests entering conflicts with a different mindset — not enforcing control, but creating negotiation. She adds, “Now, you’re moving away from battles and you’re entering true cooperation.”
The great thing about negotiations is that it’s the path of least resistance. It allows both of you to feel like you’re co-owners of the process, ultimately giving you and them a sense of claim over your lives.
How to Improve Parenting Skills, According to Dr. Shefali Tsabary
If you learn one thing from Dr. Shefali, it’s this: conscious parenting is less about your child and more about your inner child. And to better connect with your young one, it’s always advisable to first connect with your authentic self.
Here are five tips from Dr. Shefali that can help you feel more fulfilled as a parent.
1. Disrupt the generational patterns
The first step of learning something new is to unlearn what you already know. And in this case, it’s to discard inherited beliefs and habits of your parents, who learned it from their parents, who learned it from theirs, and so on and so forth.
It’s time to disrupt it.
When you can understand how your past influences your present, you’ll be able to make the necessary changes in how you interact with your child.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tip: “We must excavate the past. Because it is only when we understand the past patterns from our own childhood that we can fully see how these past patterns are influencing our current ways of being.
2. Be aware of your projections
One of the biggest obstacles you may face while connecting with your child (or anyone for that matter) is the reflexive, emotional habit called projections. Simply put, it’s when you put how you think and feel onto your offspring.
Here’s the thing: children are like sponges. So when you project your beliefs and habits, your child will incorporate them as if they were their own. And chances are, they’ll fail to curate their own way of doing, feeling, and thinking.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tip: “We have to train ourselves to enter a space of observation and witness without outward action. We need to begin to listen to our own self before the stuff comes out of us.”
3. Let go of your fear-based paradigms
A lot of beliefs that have been adopted from culture are based on fear. And they usually take the form of “you should do this” and “you should do that.”
Parents want their children to be so many things at once because they’re terrified of the “what ifs.” For example:
- “What if my child can’t keep up in class?”
- “What if my child fails his SAT?”
- Or “what if my child has to repeat a year?”
According to Dr. Shefali, fear creates control, and that, in turn, obstructs connection. And quite possibly, it could lead to your child experiencing emotional turmoil.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tip: “It’s all about awareness. … It’s this awareness that’ll give us the power of choice – of now, in this moment, mindfully discerning what we need, what we are expecting, what we are fantasizing versus what our children are expressing as their authentic truth.”
4. Turn fear into courage
Culture teaches us to preempt life. It encourages us to focus on the “what ifs,” and when we do, we miss out on the “what is.”
Remember: your child is a sponge. So this fear-based parenting can shape your child to be fearful as well. That fear, according to Dr. Shefali, brings out the anxiety.
However, living in the present, and accepting the flow of the as-is, gives rise to courage.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tip: “When we have the courage to see our fears as they are, we will realize how most of these fears are constructed in our minds.”
5. The pitfalls of being a “loving parent”
Love is, undoubtedly, an element that bonds people together. One of the biggest myths about parenting, though, is that a good parent is a loving one.
While we may believe we unconditionally love our children, the harsh reality is that we only provide love when it fulfills our agendas for them.
For example, we come from a place of love when our children follow societal’s idea of perfect children, like getting good grades, getting into an Ivy League school, marrying into an established family, etc. However, when they misbehave or don’t remember to do something we’ve asked them to, then our “love” is displayed as anger, or what Dr. Shefali calls a “tainted with a heavily ego-based, fear-driven attachment.”
Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tip: “Can you love yourself as so worthy that you don’t need your children to give you worth? When you make that shift, when that needle moves within you, from your own lack to your own wholeness, it is then that you release your children out of an attachment-based relationship to a truly transcendent relationship.”
Awaken Your Parental Greatness
Guiding a little human through life is a sacred act. And raising kind, compassionate, loving individuals requires you to shift from the paradigm of traditional parenting to one of consciousness.
This is where Mindvalley’s Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest can help. And you can register for a Mindvalley account for free and check out sample classes from the quest.
With Dr. Shefali Tsabary guiding you, you’ll learn how to first focus inwards and harness your own self-evolution so you can show up at every stage of your child’s growth with compassion and empathy.
It’s as she says, “The quest for wholeness can never begin on the external level. It is always an inside job.” And when you make a change within yourself, you create an impact on your child.