Activities to Teach Parenting Skills

By Kathryn Rateliff Barr
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Kids don't come with an instruction manual or an on-site tutor, but parenting skill activities can help improve the way you deal with your kids. A parenting class includes concepts about discipline, communication, helping kids learn new skills, and more effective ways of problem solving. Teach your kids activities you find especially effective so they have parenting skills they can use when they become parents.

Role-Play Interactions

Kids and partners can challenge your interpersonal skills, such as when kids want to play one parent off another or when a child pushes your last button. Parents can role play to improve discipline, communication and problem-solving skills. One of you can play the parent and the other a child whining to get his way to decide how to enforce your house rules and end the whining. With older children, the parent and child can also use role play to understand each other’s perspectives and how to cooperatively find win-win solutions when they do not agree. Parents can describe a scenario or supply a recent interaction where communication could improve.

Block Communication Activity

Effective communication is a necessary skill between parents and between parent and child, when deciding disciplinary strategies, house rules and consequences for poor behavior. Using identical sets of stackable pattern blocks, sit back to back where neither of you can see your partner’s actions. Assign one of you the role of the builder and one the copier. The builder uses her blocks to create a structure, explaining exactly what she is doing as she builds. The copier replicates it with his blocks. Often, the two structures do not resemble one another because of ineffective communication. Talk about the importance of speaking clearly, accurately describing steps, asking for feedback and maintaining emotional control. When you reverse roles and repeat the activity, the second try often achieves better results. If you don't have blocks, have one partner draw a structure or scene and the other partner draw something similar.

Literary Skills

You can teach literary skills long before your child is ready to read. Observe your child's teacher or story hour at the library to learn how to read or tell stories to kids to gain new vocabulary, practice listening skills and recognize written phonetic sounds. Sit at eye level to the child, pointing to various objects on a page and asking open-ended questions to assess understanding, such as “What might happen next?” Tell your child a personal story, such as the day he was born or about a difficult choice you had as a child. Have your child retell the story or illustrate it to demonstrate story sequencing and comprehension skills.

In-the-Moment Teaching Opportunities

Take advantage of teachable moments. Use songs to practice number and letter skills, such as singing the “Alphabet Song” or “One Little, Two Little Indians.” Demonstrate clapping to the rhythm when words have more than one syllable or clapping when words rhyme, such as cat and mat. Use the songs while riding in the car, walking together as a family or interacting at home. Teach in-the-moment problem-solving skills when kids disagree to encourage them to work things out without parental involvement.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.