Learn the 15 principles of effective parenting that will help you discipline your child and enjoy parenthood.
Here at Sleeping Should Be Easy, we discuss several topics like how-to steps to insightful discussions. We talk about ways to get your kids to listen or helping your child recognize letters and numbers. We discuss why motherhood is hard or the biggest reason you should have a life outside of kids. But within are principles to effective parenting, regardless of the topic discussed.
If you asked me about guidelines to my parenting philosophy, I would point you to these 15 principles.
15 principles of effective parenting
You’ll hear me mention them throughout many of the posts, and for good reason. When we keep these principles in mind, they’ll steer us toward our parenting goals. These tips show you how to parent effectively and make for a happier household.
1. Honor the impulse
“Honoring the impulse” reminds us to examine why kids behave or misbehave. Author Laura Davis coined the term in Becoming the Parent You Want to Be (affiliate link). Kids usually don’t know they’re doing something wrong.
Before we jump to conclusions or accuse them of wrongdoing, look at why they did what they did. Was your toddler smothering his baby sister? Start by honoring the impulse. “Looks like you wanted to give her a big hug,” you might say. Only then should you lay the rules: “She’s still so small, so we pat her gently, like this.”
2. Respect your kids
Kids function on a level so different from us. Their crazy demands and out-of-the-blue tantrums. Their lack of social etiquette and rude remarks.
That still doesn’t mean they deserve less respect that you would give any other adult. Watch your tone of voice and ask yourself if you would treat another person this way.
3. Embrace your child’s temperament
Your personality may or may not be like your child’s. Either way, accept their temperament and learn the best ways to tap into it rather than trying to change it.
Consider strong-willed traits as their budding independence and desire to assert themselves. Or introduce new people and experiences gradually to your introverted child.
4. Discuss emotions
Unlike you and me who know what emotions feel like, kids aren’t born with this understanding. They don’t even know the names of these emotions.
We can offer much-needed help by discussing emotions at appropriate times, complete with names. “Looks like you feel mad because we had to stop playing.”
5. Don’t compare your kids to others
Or rather, don’t let comparisons get you too riled up. It’s natural to compare. It’s almost our innate way of seeing if anything wrong is going on with our kids. We also feel proud of our kids when we see them excel in certain ways.
That said, note the comparison and move on. When we try to keep up with the Jones’ kids, we’ll cause more unneeded grief and worry. Especially since kids develop at different times and almost always turn up just fine in the end.
6. Pick your battles
I’m all about standing your ground and staying consistent with rules. But sometimes—especially when you’re about to lose your cool—it’s okay to be flexible.
Some battles aren’t worth saying or doing something we later regret. Or driving ourselves mad just because our kid won’t take a bath this one time.
7. Understand child development and behavior
I keep myself from losing my cool by remembering that kids develop skills at different stages. When my child is testing me, I tell myself he’s learning assertion and his boundaries. When he’s clinging onto me, I remember he’s going through separation anxiety. And both these skills are appropriate for his age.
8. Praise effort
Praise effort (“You tried hard during the game!”), not innate traits they can’t change (“You’re good at soccer!”). Praise kids for something they can control and improve such as studying for an exam. Or for not giving up on a puzzle or practicing hard. They’ll have confidence and work harder than if they felt like people are just born smart or athletic.
9. Let kids struggle
When we butt in and solve our kids’ problems, we deny them the opportunity to create solutions. Yes, watching kids struggle is difficult and awkward. You just want to wash away their frustrations. But when given the chance to solve problems, they’ll learn the skill and feel proud of themselves.
10. Express empathy
Your child can recognize emotions, allowing him to better relate to others and his peers. He’ll understand that you’re on his side, even if you disagree. And for yourself, you’ll have more patience when you put yourself in his shoes.
11. Promote concentration and focus
When kids focus on a project, they can solve problems in ways that short attention spans don’t allow. They’ll feel satisfied working hard with little distraction and plenty of time to explore.
12. Teach by example
You can teach anything—values, habits, language, you name it—by doing it yourself. If you want your child to lessen computer time, pick up a book, game or project instead of the screen. They’ll learn that values and habits is a family affair. They’re so important that everyone—even parents—abide by them.
13. Do what works for you
For every advice you hear, whether from me, other moms or friends, tailor it to suit you and your family. No one cares more about your kids or knows them better than you do. Effective parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all manual.
14. Discipline without anger
Anger is reactive and one of the most difficult emotions to go through. Disciplining my kids with consequences was more effective than involving my own frustrations. Kids’ misbehavior should follow with “matter-of-fact” consequences based on reasonable rules, not our anger.
Disciplining without anger also shows your child you’re on the same side. You’re helping him manage his emotions, not trying to “win.”
15. Be there for your kids, even (or especially) when they’re upset
When your kids feel upset, it’s a sign that they need you. Something is off. It’s not the time to banish them to time-out—instead, have a time-in. Let your kids know you love them even when they misbehave, even as you set limits and stand your ground. They know you love them not just when they’re happy but through all their emotions.
These 15 principles will hopefully guide me when times are tough and remind me of the bigger picture. I hope they can be helpful to you as well.
Get more parenting tips:
- 5 Easy Tips for Kids to Learn Empathy
- Little Ways You’re Actually Judging Your Child and His Emotions
- What to Do when Your Child Disrespects You
- How to Set Limits with Your Baby (And Almost Toddler)
- The One Mistake You’re Probably Making when Your Child Misbehaves in Front of Others
What are some of your principles of effective parenting? What is your biggest parenting challenge right now? Let me know in the comments!
Get 20 quick parenting tips
Want a simple way to turn the parenting tips you read into action you'll actually do? Get exclusive tips and an instant FREE download of the bonus chapter, 20 Actionable Items You Can Do!