Discover The Top 10 Most Important Qualities of a Good Parent

By  Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated - 29 January 2021

I am often asked what the qualities of a good parent are and what particular skills you need to do a good job. But let's face it...

Parenting is a minefield of second-guessing and trying to keep on top of things... which can leave parents feeling inadequate or plain exhausted most of the time.

Despite this, some parents are instinctively on the same wavelength as their children. And seem to be able to find the right words and solutions at the right time. (How?!)

10 Qualities of a Good Parent

And so, over the many years that I have spent working with different families and raising a son of my own... I have come to figure out what the fundamental characteristics of effective parenting are.

So... do you want to know what The Top 10 Qualities Of A Good Parent really are? 

Let's dive in!

Qualities of a Good Parent Featured Image

What is a good parent?

So what makes a good parent?

Well, we all want to have the qualities of a good parent and do the best we can in order to raise our children to be happy well rounded and grounded human beings.

But the truth of the matter is, it's hard work to be a good parent

Good parenting is not about being right at all times or never making mistakes, but it is about cultivating good qualities and lifestyle choices.

It is how we handle the laying down of the foundations of teaching our children to become good human beings that really matters. And how we deal with bumps along the way.

Parenting is many things...

From moments full of laughter, joy and overwhelming love to those full or tears, tantrums and agony. Raising your children will be without doubt the most important job you will ever do and in order to do it well, it needs to be a priority.

I have always believed that having children teaches you NOT to be selfish. 

All human beings are selfish at heart, that is how we survive, but when you hold that baby for the first time your whole perspective on the world changes, as you come to terms with the dawning realisation that you are responsible for this wondrous little bundle for the rest of your life.

There is no other relationship in your life that will be as strong as this.

The unconditional love you will feel will mean that no matter what they do, no matter how they behave, you will be there every step of the way, loving, forgiving, teaching and guiding.

It is built into your DNA.

Good parents strive to help their children to become the best they can possibly be, with a strong sense of self.

That might sound too simple a statement, but I believe the answer to establishing strong qualities of a good parent, is to be consistent in your approach, communicate effectively, have fun, be firm but kind, lead by example, be humble and to show your child the importance of love and compassion.

Qualities you need as a parent

There are no shortcuts to being a good parent. And as a parent, you will be tested on every level both physically and emotionally.

It is inevitable that you will make mistakes, but it is how you handle them that truly matters.

There are some essential qualities of a good parent that I feel we should all strive to achieve and include in our parenting ethos.

Some are easier to achieve than others, but being a good parent is really a way of life, not a part time job to be fitted into a hectic schedule. 

So, what exactly are the qualities of a good parent?

Qualities you need as a good parent Family shadows

1. Lead by example

Children will absorb more of what you do than what you say, so being a good role model is one of the fundamental qualities of a good parent.

The old saying 'do what I say not what I do' just won't cut it, I'm afraid.

If you tell your children they should not look at their phones at meal times, then neither should you. This is leading by example.

The way you treat others is vitally important too, as your actions will teach your children how to behave towards their fellow human beings.

Your every emotion and reaction will have a bearing on how they view the world and the people in it.

How you cope in a crisis and how you show love and affection will all be modelled to them by you. This is a huge responsibility and one not to be taken lightly.

Knowing this will make sure that you take care in the way you behave in every situation and that is no bad thing.

Equally, if you make a mistake (which we all do!), then apologise.

As a parent you do not have to be supreme, all knowing or flawless, you just have to be a good human being.

Being right all the time is not good parental modelling.

Being humble and teaching your child how to deal with making their own mistakes and the misjudging of a situation, is a far better human quality to model as a parent.

2. Consistency, boundaries & Discipline

All children need consistency and boundaries in their life. This can take the form of consistent routines and schedules, which can be established from an early age and that grow with your child.

Keeping a regular and recognisable bedtime routine is one way of providing consistency along with regular mealtimes.

Being consistent in the way you deal with situations is also key.

For instance, when you say 'no' to something then you MUST stick with it in order for your word to be counted on.

If you change your opinion halfway through, then you will only end up confusing your child, even if they end up getting what they want.

As strange as it sounds, it is actually beneficial for children to know how far they can go.

Drawing up clear boundaries regarding behaviour and respect for others is beneficial to children's well being and emotional development. Children do not thrive well in a vacuum of indecision or indifference.

3. Fun, laughter and a sense of humour

A newborn baby has a built in response to a happy smiling face.

After all, their first interaction with us beyond crying is to smile and just remember how wonderful that moment was for you as a parent!

That smile meant the world and the reaction it got made your baby smile more and, as a result, made you encourage them to smile as often as possible.

Happiness breeds happiness.

However, parenting does not always be a hard slog of responsibility. 

Fun and laughter family swinging child between them

It should also be filled with fun, love and most importantly laughter. Good humour provides relief from life's stressors by reducing stress hormones, stimulating endorphins and strengthening the immune system.

Negativity drags people down and is not healthy for children, as it can magnifies their worries and anxieties.

Family time should be full of fun and laughter with a good dash of silliness thrown in.

So laugh often, and encourage your children to be fun loving and positive.

4. Listen and take an interest

Many people ask me how I continue to have a strong relationship with my son as a grown adult and how can they ensure that their children will keep in touch and informed about what is going on in their life too...

Well, I always answer with the same sentence...

I spent (and do still spend), a lot of time listening and taking an active interest in what he is doing.

My husband passed away when my son was just 15 years old and I had to step up and take an interest in all the male orientated things his Dad used to do.

I have watched many hours of cricket test matches and hours and hours of Top Gear, in order to keep in touch with the things he was interested in. 

Listen and take an interest Mother teaching daughter how to use a bow and arrow

By showing an interest in your children and what they're doing or saying, you are helping them to build a strong sense of self and you're making them feel worthy and important as an individual.

Even very young children need to feel they have your undivided attention when you are interacting with them.

Of course, they also have to learn that they cannot be the centre of attention all the time, but it is vital that you make them feel that they are worthy of your, and others, attention when appropriate.

5. Flexibility

Having children in your life will mean that you need to be flexible.

Of course, you have your routines and boundaries, but within those, there has to be some flexibility.

Flexibility leads to more open mindedness and allows space to resolve disagreements more smoothly.

Children will naturally push boundaries and if you can avoid standoffs and shouting matches, you will find that you are able to give your child a voice by encouraging discussion. 

It is important to try and find a balance between accommodating and dominating by being firm, but kind and fair.

Flexibility mother in red sweater talking to son

6. Give praise and encourage positive behaviour

All of us thrive better in a positive, loving and encouraging environment. That is why it is so important to show your children you love them and praise them whenever possible.

From the moment your child is born, touch, cuddles and kind words are essential. And as they grow, praising them and telling them you love them, should become second nature. 

Descriptive praise is something that I have found works very well with young children, especially if they are struggling to work within boundaries.

Tell your child exactly what it is that you like about what they are doing or have done.

For example: 'thank you for tidying away your toys so nicely' or 'well done for putting on your shoes all by yourself' or quite simply, 'you are a good girl'. 

And remember, an important and spontaneous 'I love you' will always make them feel valued and cherished.

Always remember to praise an effort to correct unwanted behaviour for instance 'well done for trying so hard'.

You can never give too much praise and this will in turn encourage a strong sense of self in your little one.

You can also reward good behaviour, but preferably not with material items. Young children especially, will be happy with a reward such as choosing what game to play next or what book to read.

Older children, however, can choose which movie the family will watch or what to have for dinner (remember to offer choices on these occasions, or you'll be eating sweets for tea!)

Try to downplay unwanted behaviour in very young children rather than saying 'no' straight away, as this will usually just lead to an escalation in bad behaviour. If you keep your eye on the ball, most unwanted behaviour can be avoided in the very young.

Obviously, as your toddler starts to become more independent they will not be so accommodating, but if you make sure that you allow them to be independent in a safe and encouraging way, you will avoid having to deal with too many tantrums.

In handling tantrums (and avoiding them if possible), there is a simple trick to follow...

The trick is to help your toddler not to become frustrated at every turn and to allow them to feel they are becoming more independent.

Balancing that with healthy boundaries and routines will make them feel safe, loved and secure.

7. Teach tolerance and compassion

One of the most important qualities of a good parent you can have is to show your children how to be tolerant and compassionate human beings.

This can be modelled in the way your treat them, your friends and family and the wider community.

It begins when they are very small and they observe you praising kind and loving behaviour. For example, when they share their toys or food.

If they are showing frustration with somebody else's behaviour or actions, explain that everyone is different and that maybe they are having a bad day.

But most importantly, if they see you showing tolerance, compassion and performing acts of kindness (such as offering the help the old lady next door to do her shopping), they will in turn start to practice their own compassionate deeds.

Teach tolerance and compassion family dinner party dad eating pancakes next to kids

8. Teach patience and goal setting

Being able to teach patience and goal setting are two very essential qualities of a good parent.

A very young child will not be able to be patient for long, but if you make the waiting age appropriate, then they can only benefit from learning this skill.

Instant gratification is a symptom of modern society where everything and everyone is available at a click of a button.

We are all guilty of falling into the trap of wanting and receiving things too quickly and with minimum effort.

Not teaching your child to set goals and have to work for them in a patient way, will only lead to frustration later in life.

Therefore, a great way to teach your children to work patiently for reward, is by setting them chores around the house.

This can start off by just simply helping to tidy away toys to, later on, helping to lay and clear the dinner table, taking out the rubbish or even mowing the lawn, when they are older.

This can then be rewarded with praise, a special treat like going out for a bike ride together or earning pocket money towards a special item they may have wanted.

In all cases, children should understand that they need to be patient and work towards a goal in order to achieve it.

9. Model a healthy lifestyle

If you asked me to describe a person who is a good parent I would say one who shows their children how to be a good person and lead a good life.

Healthy eating habits

From the moment you introduce your child to food you are laying the foundations of healthy eating, by what you offer them and how your offer it.

It is all too easy to offer food as a reward but that in itself can lead to an unhealthy relationship with what we put into our bodies later in life.

Regular everyday family mealtimes that are relaxed and symbolise a time for the family to come together to talk about their day or any concerns they might have, are essential. 

Good parents educate their children and involve them in food preparation and meal planning. 

Model a healthy lifestyle Mother walking with toddler eating apple

It is important that they are involved in the process and understand what foods are good for them and why.

Avoid sugary and over processed foods as they are proven to contribute to disruptive behaviour in children and contribute to anxiety and depression.

"We are what we eat" is a good mantra to hold on to.

Obesity is the scourge of our modern society, again linked to our tendency to want everything instantly and with minimal effort.

We owe it to our children to help them avoid the many pitfalls and temptations that are out there to eat the wrong foods and it is our job to show them the right path to healthy eating.

10. Encourage physical and creative activities

Along with healthy eating, encouraging physical and creative activities is equally important.

Taking daily exercise and later on encouraging your child to take up a sport, is very important to their physical and mental wellbeing.

Very young children have boundless energy and regular outdoor play from a very young age will keep them engaged in and sow the seeds for enjoying physical activities as they grow.

 Seeing you exercise and play physical games with them will help to model a healthy lifestyle.

Encouraging creativity is also important, as too many children today rely on technology to fill those moments of boredom.

However, creative outlets such as drawing, painting, crafting or playing an instrument are wonderful ways for children to learn to soothe themselves and calm their minds.

Very young children love to explore with paint and crayons and by exposing them to all sorts of creative activities at this stage will help them to seek creative outlets later on.

Your participation in these activities and seeing you pursuing creative hobbies will help them maintain their interest.

QuaDad painting a cardboard house with daughter encourage creative activities

Give healthy academic support

When is comes to academic support you need to remember that your children are NOT trophies. 

In today's success and money driven society, we can end up putting an enormous amount of pressure on our children to succeed academically.

It is so important to accept your child's limitations and work within them and try not to compare your child's academic success with those of others in his peer group.

Be observant and if your child is struggling make sure that there are no undiagnosed learning difficulties causing your child to find it difficult to progress as expected.

Check that there are no issues at school such bullying or not getting on with a certain teacher too.

With that in mind, you should encourage your children to have healthy learning and study habits and always be on hand to offer support.

As they grow, children do need to understand the importance of learning, getting good grades and to be disciplined in doing their homework and always try their best. But REMEMBER...

They are children, first and it is important that children do not become stressed over school work. 

Early learning should be fun and if they start life by learning from you through play and getting positive feedback for their achievements, they will hopefully approach further learning with a healthy attitude and enquiring mind.

Final Thoughts

Simon Sinek who is a British born American author and motivational speaker, very clearly states what the negative outcome on children not taught patience and goal setting in our modern age can be.

He believes that what he says has been referred to as 'failed parenting', has produced in older children with an inability to feel fulfilled, both personally and professionally.

Simon is a respected authority on leadership with many major companies turning to him for advice on leadership and motivation in the workforce.

And interestingly, he often refers back to parenting as the basis of his observation of young adults. 

He has some very enlightening thoughts on the fact that being a good parent is essentially being a good leader.

I find his insights into how young adults of today have been affected by so called 'failed parenting' very illuminating and feel we can learn a lot about what mistakes to avoid in raising the young children of this generation.

Watch his video below to help you realise that our parenting in the early years can have a hugely important impact on our children and will ultimately determine the person that they will eventually become.

Most importantly we owe it to our children to be the best leaders in their life that we can possibly be.

As you can see, learning how to be instile the qualities of a good parent in order to become a good parent & teaching our children from the very beginning how to make sensible choices, nurture relationships and how to wait for rewards, is really about being a good role model and passing that on.

You should aim to teach them to be the best human being they can possibly be, to recognise their failings, to have tolerance, compassion and to be humble.

Teach them to learn from their mistakes rather than be defined by them and that, above all else, they should love and cherish those close to them and embrace life and the world they live in with curiosity, respect and a thirst for knowledge.

So what qualities of a good parent will you be implementing now?

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Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula Mclaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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Trust yourself. Accept all the help you can get. Be flexible. Have a sense of humour. Read on to discover more of the best advice for new parents!

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