How Parents Positively Affect the Development of Children

By Erica Loop
Parents can help their children to learn new lessons.
Parents can help their children to learn new lessons.

As the parent, you play a primary role in your child's development. You were the first face, first caregiver and first role model that your child has had to follow. If you have concerns about your child's growth, behaviors and developmental state, consider looking inward to the ways in which you can positively affect her.

Expectations and Schooling

Setting reasonable and age-appropriate expectations can have a positive impact on your child's development when it comes to learning and school. Sandra L. Christenson, Ph.D, of the University of Minnesota notes that child development and educational research reflects the positive effect that high parent expectations can have on scholastic success. Parents who expect their children to achieve in their academic pursuits can affect grades, overall educational attainment and even performance on cognitive (or mental reasoning) tasks. This isn't to say that simply setting reasonably high expectations will equal great grades. Instead, creating goals for your child and helping him understand why school is key to his development and life success can empower your child to excel and reach his maximum potential.


Sometimes parenting means taking a step back. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, learning how to parent at a distance is key to helping your child develop into an independent person. While during the early years, you need to keep close helping your child to make safe and beneficial decisions, during the grade school (and later) years instilling a sense of independence is a positive practice. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to maintain a completely hands-off approach. Instead, you should keep a watchful eye on your child, but still allow her to make her own decisions and choices when appropriate. This can help her to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills for herself.

Role Models

That famous celebrity that your little one constantly seems to look up to isn't the only role model in his life. Although movie stars, musicians and athletes are common models that kids try to emulate, parents can have a positive effect on their children by taking on this lofty role. KidsHealth suggests that parents act as positive role models, helping their children to develop skills and traits such as respect, kindness, tolerance and honesty.


Discipline isn't always a negative word. While you might not want to see the behaviors that necessitate discipline, the act of providing these correction strategies can help your child to develop in a more positive manner. In the early years (the toddler and preschool stages) effective discipline can help to teach your little one prosocial and acceptable behaviors that she would otherwise not know. If you put your toddler in time-out for failing to share her toys, she will learn a lesson and hopefully engage in more positive types of behavior next time she is at school or on a play date. Likewise, providing rules and consequences for an older child can help her to develop into a socially and emotionally positive person.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.