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4 Important Parenting Skills You Absolutely Need


Questioning Your Parenting Skills is Normal

There are some incredibly thrilling moments we get as parents. Those major breakthrough moments give us great delight. “He walked!” “He spoke!” “They shared!”

And the quieter moments, when they throw their arms around you for a hug or ask for a sandwich only the way you can make it … those moments feel miraculous, too, because it’s like reinforcement from the universe that we’re doing this parenting thing right.

And then there are the far more gruesome parts of parenting that make us question our parenting skills.

None of us want our kids hitting or biting other kids or our kids to throw temper tantrums (particularly in public). And we shudder at the thought of our kids showing unsportsmanlike behavior on the field, ignoring responsibilities, or sneaking the family car out solo.

These kinds of moments make us stop and reassess what we’re doing. We ask ourselves questions like, “Do I know enough to be a good parent?” or “Am I doing the right things for my kids?” Don’t panic!

When we question our parenting skills, it highlights two things.

  1. We want to be the best parents we can be.
  2. We want to learn how.

How to Improve Your Parenting Skills

So, how do we become the best parents we can be? Able to relish the joy and learn from the frustration? As you might imagine, that how-to list could be quite extensive. But since we only remember a few things each day, let’s focus on four key things: Patience, Engagement, Consistency, and Utilizing a Coach.

01 – Practice patience.

We all know that life happens. The good, the bad, and the ugly are just a part of being human. The key to our success, however, is not avoiding the bad and the ugly. Our success comes from how we react to any given situation. While most of us recognize that when things go wrong at work we should breathe deep, compose our thoughts, and start thinking about a way forward, at home when our kids do something that is out of line, it’s much easier to blow up and let it out.

While there are times that blowing up and yelling might make us feel better, the fact is that feeling is short-lived and does nothing to help our kids. In fact, it reinforces a behavior in our kids that when something goes bad, they should yell. Not a habit we want to reinforce.

(Side note: Go watch Rodney Atkins’s YouTube video “Watching You.” They’re watching you for what to do!) So, count to 10, cool off, and start thinking about a way forward rather than letting it all dump out.

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02 – Engage as often as you can.

Engaging with our kids is fundamentally one of the most important parenting skills we can have. Engagement doesn’t mean just showing up and being in the same space. It means talking, sharing, doing, showing, and helping in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the child. So, when that “thing” happens that has you fuming, slow down and engage with your kid about why whatever happened was an issue.

Talk about it and discuss the right and wrong ways to have dealt with or responded differently. Even when your kids are young and you don’t think they understand you, do it anyway. Your tone and tenor make a huge difference.

Engagement isn’t just important when something goes wrong, though. It’s important to have regular engagement with our child on a day-to-day basis. It’s one of the most critical elements when it comes to your child’s learning.

All children’s capacities and capabilities are in direct relationship to the engagement they have with the adults around them, the environment they are in, and the experiences they have. We call these (engagement, environment, and experiences) the 3 Es.

Engagement is also important in forming and solidifying the parent-child bond. When we regularly engage with our children and show them we’re open to discussions and calmly respond to things, they learn that they can come to us with anything.

03 – Prioritize consistency.

We all like consistency in our lives … so do our children. When it comes to parenting skills, the more consistent we are in our actions—patience and engagement—the better the outcomes in helping our children see the right way.

In short, as parents, we are influencing the behavior of our children by what we do (and what our children see). Patience, engagement, and consistency are key parental skills.

04 – Don’t be afraid to get a coach.

At work, we’re not bashful about finding a mentor or coach to help us improve our skills and capabilities. The same should be true for us and our parenting skills. We believe that one of the important concepts our children need to live is that life is about learning, unlearning (because things do change), and relearning at every opportunity.

When it comes to parenting, coaching can sometimes be very similar to work-style coaching. Other times, it can simply be having a chat with another parent. The key to successfully utilizing a coach, regardless of the style you choose, is a willingness to share and listen, which ultimately is what coaching is all about … willing to share, get feedback, and take action.


With these four key parentings skills in mind you’ll smile a lot more as you watch your children grow to become happy, caring, and engaging adults. And you’ll find yourself wincing less when “s%!# happens.”

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Rick Stephens

Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting.

In his free time Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>