things that good parents do

Guide and support–not push and demand. Parents naturally want their kids to succeed, and may push, prod, bribe, demand, or even threaten kids with punishment to get them to practice an instrument, excel at a sport, achieve top grades and so on. The fact is, being a Tiger Mom (or Dad) isn’t likely to get your child further than giving kids lots of support, and gently nudging if and when they need it. For more on when to nudge and when to let go, read, “Tiger Mom or Kitten Mom? When to Push Kids to Succeed, When to Let Go.”

Let kids be independent. Good parents know that it’s important for kids to do things for themselves. Whether it’s homework or chores or making friends, the best thing we can do as parents is get kids to a place where they can handle things on their own. It can sometimes be hard to tell how much we should help and how much we should let kids figure something out on their own, but as a general rule, helping your child with something is fine when you do it with the end goal of teaching them to eventually do it by themselves.

(For example, it’s not a good idea for parents to, say, do a child’s homework for him or hover over a play date and dictate exactly what the kids will play and how–those are definite examples of helicoptering, not helping. But if you show a child how to work out a homework problem or settle a problem with a friend in a respectful way, you’re giving your child good tools for the future.) For more on how to tell when you’re “helicopter” parenting, and when you are helping, read, “Are you Helicopter Parenting or Helping? 7 Ways to Tell.”

Remember that kids are always watching. Got a piece of juicy gossip you’re dying to share? Want to tell off a neighbor who did something rude or offensive or yell at a driver who cut you off? While we can’t always perfect, every good parent knows that kids are always learning from the examples we set. If we want our children to be kind, empathetic, and well-mannered as they grow up, we must try to be on our own best behavior and be respectful of others.