3 Top Tips for Parents
No matter how old your child is or how you became a parent or caregiver, raising kids is hard work. We’re here to help. Here are three top parenting tips to help you and your kids thrive.
Tip #1: Really Listen
One of the best things you can do for your children is to really listen to them, and reply to them in a way that shows you were really listening. According to the American Psychological Association, it’s one of the best ways to establish, strong, healthy relationships with your children.¹
“Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures,” the APA noted.
Listening can play a big role in modeling and encouraging healthy and positive relationships for youth too, which is also critical. According to a decades-long study out of Harvard University, relationships are the key to happy lives in the long run.
“The lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” says Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger.
Tip #2: Praise Strategically
There are differing opinions on this one, but according to research out of Stanford University, it’s ideal to praise children in a way that encourages a growth mindset.³ For example, after a baseball game, instead of telling your child they’re great at the sport and a real natural, tell them how proud you are of how hard they practiced. By praising strategies and processes, parents can better position their children for future success and further encourage ideal behaviors.
According to Stanford’s Carol Dweck, “Don’t praise a child for getting a high grade on a test; praise her for the studying she did, which led to the result. Don’t praise for winning a race or a game; instead, offer praise for all the sweat she put in during practice–again, which led to the result. Don’t say, ‘You’re so smart!’ or ‘You’re such a talented singer!’ Instead, you want to find a way to say things like, ‘You did a great job figuring out that problem,’ or, ‘You sound so great–all those hours of practice paid off!’”
Tip #3: Set High But Realistic Expectations
Setting (and then repeating) high expectations can have an outsized impact on a child’s success in the future. One UK study found that young women whose parents nagged them and set high expectations for them were more successful later on than their peers.³ This includes advocating for them, especially at school.³
“Teach them the skills they’ll need in real life, and give them enough leash to practice those skills on their own,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former dean of freshmen at Stanford University.
Research from psychologists has shown that children raised by caregivers who are firm but loving, supportive while also capable of encouraging resilience, are more well-adjusted later in life.⁴ Of course it’s important to learn and respect what a child’s capabilities are so they are not set up for failure.
What Do You Think About These Tips?
Do you agree or disagree with these points? What are your top tips for parents and caregivers? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us through the comments section below or by reaching out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Alternative Family Services (AFS) provides thoughtful, informed foster care, adoption and mental health services throughout California’s San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento region. Since 1978, the mission of AFS has been – and continues to be – to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety and well-being in communities through foster care, adoption and mental health services.