How to Be a Good Parent

By Rae Harris
Good parenting begins with love.

Parenting can be one of life's most rewarding pursuits. It can bring great joy into life, but it can also be challenging and overwhelming. Because every child and family situation is unique, it can be hard to know the best thing to do in every parenting situation. While there is no magic formula for perfect parenting, there are certain traits and behaviors that successful parents share. Whether your children are toddlers or teens, implementing these principles will create a strong foundation for achieving your goal of being a good parent.

Love your child unconditionally. Never withhold love as a punishment for bad behavior. While you don't have to accept your child's negative choices or behaviors, tell him and show him that you love and accept him as a person. Give him your love and support in good times and in bad.

Be an example of the kind of person you want your child to be. Model the positive attitudes and behaviors that you expect from her. Your children are the keenest observers of everything you do and say. Your personal example will have an enormous impact on how your child behaves. Strive to be your best self, and be someone your child can emulate.

Spend quality time together. Even when your schedule is busy and hectic, find time to focus on each individual child. Take advantage of small opportunities to bond. Whether it's during the drive to school, while taking a walk, during mealtimes or bath times, you can take those few minutes to focus on your child, listen to his thoughts and concerns, and show how much you care about him.

Set reasonable rules and expectations for your child and be consistent. The key to effective discipline is to have clear rules and boundaries in place for your child and to be consistent about enacting consequences. Establish routines for your children to follow, and be clear and specific about the behavior you expect from them.

Focus on positive behavior as much as possible. Recognize the positive choices and behaviors of your child and give her sincere praise for the good things she does. Acknowledging and complimenting your child's positive behavior will help reinforce it. It will also help prevent your child from using negative behavior as a way to get attention.

Empower your child and help her feel capable. Give her opportunities to work independently. For a young child, it might be as simple as setting the table or cleaning up her toys. Older children might cook a meal or plan a family activity. Whatever options you choose, find ways to teach your children that they are competent. Support them and help them, but don't try to solve all their problems for them.

Accept mistakes--your own and your child's. Life is difficult and everyone will make mistakes. Have realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your children, and forgive each other when you sometimes fall short. Learn from mistakes, and use them as an opportunity to grow.

About the Author

Rae Harris is an educator and writer with an academic background in health and fitness. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science. She began writing professionally in 2004. Harris' work has been published in various magazines, including "Schooled Magazine" and "YM."