Decades of research reveal that ten essential parenting skills are important for bringing up healthy and happy kids.

The skill that tops the list is the skill most parents already know, believe, and try to practice every day. The most important skill and gift is enveloped in the concept of giving lots of love and affection to your budding little beings. The data show that providing consistent love and affection is an excellent predictor of (1) the quality of the relationship parents will have with their children, (2) the children’s happiness, and (3) even their health and success.

The studies have also produced data indicating that two of the essential parenting skills that predict good outcomes for children are indirect. Your children benefit not only from how you treat and interact with them but also from your maintaining a good relationship with your child’s other parent and managing your own stress levels. In fact, how you treat your partner and how you treat yourself are in the top three essential parenting skills.

Children inherently want their parents to get along, and children do not like conflict between the two people in the world they love the most. Even if you are in a co-parenting situation living apart, it is important to resolve conflicts constructively without your child’s involvement, to apologize and forgive if needed, and to speak about the other parent with words of kindness. Children identify with both of their parents, so criticizing or belittling the other parent is like demeaning your child.

Stress management is an important skill for all aspects of life, including parenting. In the research, the ability to manage stress was one of the key predictors of both the quality of a parent’s relationship with their children and how happy their kids felt. Keeping calm plays a key role in parenting. Fortunately, stress management practices such as meditation, breath work, or imagery can be learned.
Kids can thrive when they see and receive love, affection, respect, and forgiveness.

The top ten parenting skills, in brief . . .
Spend quality one-on-one time with your child, showing love and affection
Take steps to reduce stress for yourself and your child
Model healthy relationship skills
Encourage self-sufficiency and self-reliance
Promote education and model learning
Provide for your child and plan for the future
Use positive reinforcement
Model a healthy lifestyle
Support a spiritual practice
Protect your child and stay aware of his or her activities and friends