There’s no foolproof way to raise children. Even though there are a plethora of people, articles and books with good intentions trying to steer you in the right direction, being bombarded with well-meaning (and often contradictory) advice hardly makes your job easier or more straightforward. Now a psychology researcher has gathered together the top ten parenting tips from actual parents themselves. This may not be the last parenting article you will ever want to read, but it may be one that you want to bookmark and reread.
Robert Eppstein, a well-known psychology researcher and author in the US, decided to ask parents what they considered were competencies that would predict a good outcome for children. A good outcome means that a child grows to be successful, healthy and happy, as well as maintaining a good relationship between parents and child.
Eppstein and a colleague compiled a list of ten competencies from several scientific studies published over the years. They then asked 11 parenting experts to rank the competencies in order of importance. They also asked 2,000 parents which of those competiencies they actually practiced, and how they thought their children were doing on measures such as health, happiness and success, and the quality of their relationship with their children.
Using all this data, Epstein ranked what parenting skills had the most impact down to which had the least. Here is the list, according to the website:
1. Love and affection: Time spent one on one, exhibiting physical affection.
2. Stress management: Parents’ ability to manage their stress.
3. Relationship skills: Parents’ ability to maintain a healthy relationship with their partner.
4. Autonomy and independence: Treating your child with respect and encouraging independence.
5. Education and learning: Providing opportunity for your child in education.
6. Life skills: Having a steady income and stable home.
7. Behavior management: Discipline techniques, both positive and negative.
8. Health: Access to healthy foods and exercise.
9. Religion: Supporting “spiritual or religious development.”
10. Safety: Keeping your child safe from harm and harmful relationships.
Unsurprisingly, love and affection was the most important predictor of a good outcome, as the quality time spent with kids influences their happiness, health and success.
Stress management and relationship skills were high ranking even though these aren’t specifically parenting skills. However, the way a parent handles stress can have a profound impact on kids. When managed well, stress doesn’t spill over to your children’s lives to affect them in a negative way. Being able to keep calm in overwhelming situations and talk kindly even in strained relationships can teach your kids good habits for the future. While these two skills have a big impact on children, it also turns out that parents lack these skills.
Coming in sixth on Epstein’s list, he defines life skills as one’s “ability to provide for your child, have a steady income and a plan for the future.” Obviously, many of these competencies are linked and individuals who are financially stable have one less thing to worry about and one less stress to manage.
If you have made it this far, hopefully it is now clear enough what to do. Stop reading, go hug your child and spend some quality time with her or him.
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