10 Essential Parenting Skills
Dr. Robert Epstein has done something interesting. He has, with the help of other researchers, compiled a list of the 10 most valuable parenting competencies. He gathered information from 2,000 parents who answered questions about their kids and who also took an online test that was designed by Dr. Epstein. There were 10 skills that were selected by Dr. Epstein for being the most predictive, according to published studies, of healthy kids. The answers given by the parents were evaluated by a panel of 11 parenting experts (whatever that means) that were unknown to Dr. Epstein, while he was, likewise, unknown to them (a double blind evaluation). The results took into account both the parents’ answers, as matched with conclusions from previously published studies, and the actual happiness of the kids about whom the questions were being answered. The product of the study was a ranking of the 10 skills by how well they predict a healthy parent/child bond balanced with mutual happiness. It should be noted that none of the skills are unimportant. They were all selected in the first place because they have published studies to back up their effectiveness. These are the ten most important skills ranked:
1. Love and affection: Do you happily and willingly spend quality time with your kid? How well do you support and accept your kid for who he is?
2. Stress Management: Do you practice relaxations techniques so as to reduce stress for both yourself and your kids?
3. Relationship Skills: This refers to your relationship with your spouse. Kids are deeply affected by strife, even if it isn’t directed at them.
4. Autonomy and Independence: How well do you encourage your kid to make independent decisions? Do you give him the respect necessary for him to be willing to try new things?
5. Education and learning: How many educational opportunities does your kid have? How well do you facilitate learning?
6. Life Skills: Are you equipping your kid with life skills that could provide him with an income if all else fails?
7. Behavior management: Positive reinforcement. Punish only when all forms of positive reinforcement have failed.
8. Health: Do you live a healthy and active life? How well is that modeled for your kids so they, too, grow an appreciation for health and fitness?
9. Religion: It has been shown that religious studies or some other spiritual training is helpful for mental well being.
10. Safety: The steps you take to ensure that no physical harm comes to your child. Do you protect him from pernicious online influences? Keep him away from bad neighborhoods?
What do you think? Is this a good list? Has Dr. Epstein and his researchers said anything you wouldn’t have already known or, having been made aware of this list, does it become clearer which things you need work on? I am strong in some areas and weak in 1 or 2 of them. I’d be willing to bet we can all see things we might be neglecting.
Source: November issue of Scientific American Mind Magazine