Tips for parenting success
Parenting styles may differ but good parenting is always steeped in common sense. Lee Loynes, CEO of Girls and Boys Town, shares her guidance for effective parenting

Parenting styles may differ but good parenting is always steeped in common sense. Lee Loynes, CEO of Girls and Boys Town, shares her guidance for effective parenting

Guidance for effective parenting

Be affectionate

Expressions of warmth and affection are important in the development of children. When your child is loved openly, he feels safe and secure. It is a means of creating emotional stability in his life and is an integrate precursor to developing your child emotionally.

In some cases, parents find it difficult to express affection, and assume that the child knows he is loved. Children need to experience direct expressions of affection.

Treat your child with respect

Treating children with respect fosters good relationships. The best way to get respectful treatment from your child is to begin with treating him with respect. Speak to your child politely and in calm voice tones. Listen to your child and respect his opinion, pay attention when he is speaking to you.

Remember that your child will treat others the way he was treated by you, thus your relationship with him is the foundation for his relationships with others.

Teach responsibility

Learning to handle responsibility can teach your child basic life skills. Keeping house and doing little chores gives children the opportunity to contribute to the household in a positive way. They enjoy being able to contribute to the family in meaningful ways.

Encourage your child’s independence

Encouraging your child to be independent helps him to develop a sense of self-direction. Too often, parents make the mistake of interpreting their child’s independence as rebelliousness or disobedience.

Keep in mind that pushing for increased independence is part of his human nature. He wants to feel in control. Doing everything for him only deprives him of the chance to learn self-reliance. Although children do need your protection, overprotection encourages dependency.

Build resiliency

Losses and failures are unfortunate and unavoidable factors of life and your child will need to learn “how to recover” skills. Resiliency is a tool that enables him to triumph over obstacles. Teach your child to look at mistakes and failures as learning tools, as we learn from our biggest mistakes.

Helping your child to feel good about himself establishes a positive self-esteem, which is vital when facing and overcoming adversity successfully, including situations such as bullying and unkind or misplaced criticism.

Establish values, teach skills and set guiding expectations

The consistent values you instill in your child will shape him as an adult. Children need to learn to respect others.

Sharing, compassion and honesty are some of the important lessons to teach young children. Likewise, your child also needs to learn to clearly understand your expectations and respect guiding rules.

Fair, understandable guiding rules and consistent routine helps children to develop personal discipline, and helps you to manage your child’s behaviour.

Clearly communicating your expectations and setting simple guiding rules, such as what time your child wakes up, goes to sleep or what sweets may be eaten after meals, helps to create a balance in his life.

The importance of teaching your child the necessary skills to be successful and keep safe can not be underestimated – understanding, for instance, that he needs to ask permission to go somewhere or do certain activities, especially where supervision is required.

Parents need to remember that expectations and guiding rules need to be reasonable, understandable and age-appropriate, and the rules you set shape the rules your child will apply later.

Praise effectively

Praise is a means of motivating your child to be successful and building self-belief and esteem. A lack of praise conveys that you don’t believe in your child’s ability. Praise him using statements like, “Wow!”, “Fantastic” or “You did a great job tidying your room. Thank you”.

These words are encouraging, and when followed by explanations to your child, are helpful and improve understanding and communication within the family.

Praise is also a means of encouraging positive behaviour as well as of building stronger relationships between you and your children.

Lead by example

Children learn by example and respond more to what you do rather than what you say. As a parent, you are a good role model without being perfect. Keep in mind that children notice when adults "get away” with things like speeding or lies.

Try to be a role model of ethics and activity – for instance: have a positive attitude towards your work and life. Introduce your child to friends or mentors who will have positive influences over his life, as other adults can be good role models as well.

Be involved in your child’s life

It is important to be there for your child. Make time to share his learning experiences and have fun with him. Playing with your child or spending time doing some of the things that he is keen on is one of the best ways to develop a strong connection with him.

Children need your physical presence. Get to know the people in your child’s life – teachers, caregivers, friends and friend’s parents. You should always know where your child is and who he is with.

Adapt your parenting style to suite your child

All children have different personalities, and respond differently to the way you interact with them. Children also have different learning styles. What works for one child might not work for another.

It is important to know and understand your child, and learn what works best for him, especially when helping him deal with various life situations, teaching him skills or values and helping him learn once he starts school.

About the writer

Lee Loynes studied Social Work at Wits University, and then later went on to complete a Masters Degree in Child and Youth Care Administration at Nova University in the USA.

Loynes has specialised in work with high risk youth and families for over 20 years and worked in the field of Child and Youth Care Management for the last 14 years.

Visit the Girls and Boys Town website at

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