7 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills

Improving parenting skills
There's no easy street for parents to take but these tips should point you in the right direction. Getty images/Cultura RM Exclusive/Erin Lester

Unlike the education or training you went through to prepare for your job, parenting skills can't be taught as much as they can be learned. When you become a parent, no one hands you an instruction manual and says, "This is how it's done." You could take a special class to boost your parenting skills or simply acquire them over time. But even the best parents have room for improvement.

If you want to be the best parent you can be, try improving your parenting skills by doing the following:

Improve your active listening skills 

Sometimes we are so busy telling our children what to do we fail to listen to their opinions or concerns. Learn what your children's hopes, fears and anxieties are by asking questions and then sitting back to listen.  Watch their body language.  Figure out what their point by listening to what is said and also not said.  Get down to their level, give them your complete attention and make good eye contact.

As working moms, we're thinking about alot of things and taking care of alot of things.  But you'll find that once you improve your listening skills you'll know when you need to stop doing whatever it is that you're doing and just listen.

Not only will you hear what your child is trying to share with you, they will feel heard, and that means they'll feel loved.  The better you understand your child's needs, the better parent you can be.

Show good judgment

Good parenting skills start with good judgment.

Know when to say no to your children and when to give in. When you make good choices your children will see this, and in many cases learn to make good judgments on their own.  

Also, after you've aced your active listening skills you'll have a better handle on what your kids are thinking, so you'll be a better judge of what their needs are.

Be a good role model

Don't do anything in front of your children that you wouldn't want them to do. If you find yourself exhibiting behavior that you don't want mimicked by your child, then it's a sign you should change how you react in certain situations.  Monkey see, monkey do!

Your kids are watching you head off to work every day.  It's important that they see you managing this all to the best of your abilities.  You aren't trying to teach perfection, you're teaching them hard work, honesty, and most of all, love.

Stick to your rules.

Whether it's when you're disciplining your children or simply saying no to a second piece of cake after dinner, rules need to be enforced after they are made. Good parenting skills require you to stick to any rules you establish and this includes you.  Kids can sniff out a hypocrite really quick.

If you show children that you make rules, but eventually break them, they will think rules are made to be broken.  Sure there are times when rules have to be broken and if that's the case make it a learning experience for all, including yourself.

Stay in control of yourself

If you lose your cool in front of your kids they may become fearful of you. Whether you're arguing with a bill collector on the phone or you're having a spat with your spouse, don't exhibit angry behavior in the presence of your children. Any time you lose control and yell or argue with someone, you're showing your children this is how people react when times get tough.

Instead, exhibit good parenting skills by illustrating how you can keep your cool and resolve the problem at hand in a calm manner. Show them what emotional intelligence is all about.  If you do lose your cool, be sure to apologize and take responsibility for your anger. That is another way to model healthy behavior.

Show love and affection

Many parents love their children, but don't always let them know it. Don't let a day go by without saying "I love you" to your children. Hug and kiss them to show emotion. An embrace with a child often makes him or her feel loved, safe and able to count on you.

All a child wants from you in your love.

Spend quality time with your child

Often times parents spend a large quantity of time with their kids, but fail to be actively engaging with them. This is especially important for working moms to do since we often have our children with babysitters or in daycare when we are at work.

Exhibit good parenting skills by initiating interactive activities, such as playing old-fashioned board games, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply talking with your children to make the most of the time you have together.

Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.