14 Positive Parenting Tips

  • woman and girl reading a book
    Pop Open a Book
    Reading to young children helps them learn. Read to your child every day once he or she reaches 6 months of age. When children can read on their own, take books with you in the car so they can read while traveling.

  • Know When to Say "No"
    Know When to Say "No"
    Strike a balance. Establish clear and reasonable boundaries. Children are more likely to abuse drugs in homes where there is too much or too little discipline.

  • Maintain Healthy Boundaries
    Maintain Healthy Boundaries
    Set clear rules with clear consequences. Don't give warnings—just apply the consequence. Otherwise, kids will try to see what they can get away with. Praise children when they do the right thing. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to enforce rules.

  • family-fishing-off-dock
    Be a Good Role Model
    Children who have strong role models early in life will grow into successful adults, studies show. Teach children positive problem-solving strategies and model them yourself. And don't swear, smoke, or abuse drugs, or your kids might imitate you.

  • two friends talking at restaurant
    Let Your Child Decide
    Allow your child to make decisions—and mistakes. Mistakes are a normal part of life and learning. Let your child know that he or she can learn from mistakes. As long as the consequences of a bad decision won't hurt anyone, don't feel that you need to step in.

  • Happy girl at breakfast
    Don't Use Junk Food as a Reward
    Giving goodies for good deeds actually encourages unhealthy eating. Present healthy foods to kids as tasty, delicious choices.

  • fruits-and-vegetables
    Stock Up on Health
    Have healthy, easy-to-eat foods on hand. Kids choose foods that are ready to eat. Load your fridge with pre-cut veggies in single-serving bags that they can grab on the go.

  • Young Caucasian girl in car looking out window listening to headphones
    Lyrics Lowdown
    Tune in to what they are listening. You may be worried that your kids are listening to inappropriate music or watching bad movies. For kids who have healthy, balanced lives, music isn't usually dangerous. If you're concerned, discuss it with them—without criticizing. And watch out for behavior changes, such as social isolation, anorexia, or moodiness, which may signal a bigger problem like depression.

  • Friends sitting on sofa chewing bubble gum
    Encourage Healthy Friendships
    If your child has fallen in with the wrong crowd, you have reason to be concerned. But forbidding your child to see these friends isn't the best idea. Set consequences if your child adopts the bad behavior you've seen in these friends. If your child's friends don't smoke or do drugs, your child is less likely to experiment. So encourage your child to spend time with friends who match your family's values. Arrange structured activities, such as sleepovers, bowling or watching a sporting event.

  • Caucasian mother and daughter making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
    Ask Questions, Set Limits
    Stay involved. Ask teens what they're doing, where they are, and who they're with. Practice active listening, even if you're uncomfortable with what you hear. Set appropriate limits for them, while still giving them space to grow.

  • Young Girl Nail Biting
    Learn the Warning Signs
    Know a moody teenager? Who doesn't. It's normal for teens to feel angry, alone, or confused. But the following signs could signal a bigger problem that may require outside help:

    • Violence
    • Eating disorder
    • Promiscuity
    • Skipping school
    • Trouble with law enforcement

  • Young Caucasian woman annoyed with unseen Caucasian woman at kitchen table
    Open Communication
    Talking with teens can be tough. Listen to their point of view and let them finish their point before you respond. Don't appear angry or defensive, or your kids will tune out. Don't put down their opinion: Let them know it's OK to disagree.

  • Make Room for Self-Expression
    Make Room for Self-Expression
    Allow some rebellion. Remember when you grew your hair long and your parents hated it? Some rebellion is normal in the teen years. Give your teens a little leeway with clothes and hairstyle—they're usually just trying to express themselves.

  • father-son-talking-on-couch
    Give Love and Praise
    The number one thing you can do to help your teenagers cope with these tough years: let them know you love them. Teens respond best to positive feedback, so praise good behavior. Teens with low self-esteem or family problems are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, to have unprotected sex and develop drug or alcohol issues.

14 Positive Parenting Tips

About The Author

  1. "Family: Living with Rules." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://bblocks.samhsa.gov/family/rules/default.aspx
  2. "Family: Tips on Rules." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://bblocks.samhsa.gov/family/rules/tips.aspx
  3. "Family: Following Directions." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://bblocks.samhsa.gov/family/talkinglistening/followingdirections.aspx
  4. "Family: Tips on Role Modeling." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://bblocks.samhsa.gov/family/walk/tips.aspx
  5. "Understanding Your Teenager's Emotional Health." American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children/parents/parents-teens/590.html
  6. "Preparing Youth for Peer Pressure." National Mental Health Information Center, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/CA-0047/default.asp
  7. "The Influence of Music and Music Videos." American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/page.ww?name=The+Influence+Of+Music+And+Music+Videos§ion=Facts+for+Families
  8. "Self-Esteem." American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/publiced/BK5_SelfEsteem_High.htm
  9. "Tips for Parents of Adolescents." American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/publiced/BR_Parenting_TeenTips.htm
  10. Parenting: The Teen Years." American Psychological Association. http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=1
  11. "Raising Children to Resist Violence: What You Can Do." American Psychological Association. http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=15
  12. "Healthy Habits for Healthy Families." American Psychological Association. http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=195
  13. "Parenting: Communication Tips for Parents." American Psychological Association. http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=48
  14. "Reading Tips for Parents." U.S. Department of Education. http://www.ed.gov/parents/read/resources/readingtips/part_pg2.html
  15. "Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking." Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/about.html
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 10
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