15 Things Successful Parents Do

  . . . or what’s really going on with parents we wish we were like


1. They See Their Child’s Misbehavior as a Good Problem

When their child misbehaves, successful parents see this as a good problem. The misbehavior tells the parent exactly what the child needs to learn – no more guess work. They stop their child’s world and help them learn what’s expected in their family. They make sure to let their child know that they are “not in trouble.” The child does need to learn how to be respectful and responsible.

2. They Understand Their Child’s Brain

Successful parents understand that there are two sides of the brain. The Right Brain deals with emotions, images, relationships, non-verbal, and big picture. When a young child is in chaos, their right brain is most involved. The Left Brain deals with logic, language, order, and control. When a child is inflexible, their Left Brain is more in charge. By understanding which side of the brain is driving during certain behaviors, successful parents can address the situation calmly and with competence. They know that empathy, pictures, and naming emotions can help soothe a child in turmoil. They also know when the child is in a place to strategize and problem-solve an issue.

3. They Hold Family Meetings

Successful parents know that regular family meetings provide a place for family members to communicate with one another.  It’s a place to connect, appreciate one another, let each voice be heard, make family plans, introduce tools or new learning, and have fun.

4. They Use Positive Corrective Experiences instead of Punishment or Discipline

Instead of acting outwardly upon the child, successful parents interact with them, preparing and empowering the child to make positive change from the inside. They focus on teaching their child a new positive behavior. They help their child take responsibility for what he/she has done.

5. They Prepare Their Child with Practice

Parents who expect their child to make positive changes in their behavior give them a chance to practice the new behaviors. Their child shows them what they don’t know (as in #1!). When the parent knows what to teach their child, they look ahead and make a time for their child to practice. They also look ahead and prepare their child for new or unfamiliar events.

6. They Are Not Concerned With What Other Parents Think

Successful parents buck the tradition of doing something just because others are doing. They avoid culturally accepted methods that other friends are using – distraction, separation, counting, time-outs, wait and see, do nothing, nagging, even punishment – which can work in the short-term but provide little lasting learning or effectiveness. While other parents are working too hard with little result, successful parents know their efforts have a positive effect because they are teaching their child behaviors from the inside/out. Other parents might misunderstand and even say negative things, but the successful parent limits their time with the haters, and focuses more on what’s working for them.

7. They Admit When They Make a Mistake

Just as successful parents can’t expect their child to be perfect, the same goes for themselves. Part of being accountable for their own behavior is letting the child know that they have made a mistake, and they can model a “Do-Over” of their own behavior. This allows the child to see how an adult models being accountable.

8. They Don’t Do “The Happy Dance”

Successful parents know that they are responsible for the environment, keeping their child safe, and creating learning opportunities. They are not responsible for their child’s feelings. They do not try to make them happy at all costs. This allows the child to experience their own feelings and learn positive behaviors from the inside. It also lets the child have feelings and experiences different from their parent. 

9. They Transition, Teach, and Calm With Music

Successful parents are aware that all children are musical. They know that music can be used to ease transitions, enhance learning, create a pattern interrupt, or increase communication. They know that music can soothe, change moods, break up altercations, affect energy, and lessen tedious events like long car rides. It can also help with strong feelings like missing a parent, disappointments, not feeling safe, trying new foods, and making bedtime easier.

10. They Don’t Say “Good Job”

“Good job” is a form of praise and can become an external motivator for kids. It also falls on the scale of coercion, hoping a child will continue more of a certain behavior if they get praised enough. Successful parents know to acknowledge the effort, not the outcome; they comment on what they see or experience, not on how well something is done; they ask questions, and help create internal learning.

11. They Close the Distance

Successful parents know that one way to lessen the chaos in their homes is to go where the person they want to communicate with can see and hear them. No matter how congenial the content, if two voices are yelling across the expanse of a house, that yelling creates tension. Successful parents close the distance so they can use their inside voice.

12. They Use Guerrilla Lovefare

Guerrilla Warfare has the element of surprise. So does Guerrilla Lovefare. Successful parents use the element of surprise to show that good times are as much a part of family life as difficult lessons, following rules, or feeling as if parents’ needs seem to come first. The parent is in charge of WHEN the needs are met. The child develops trust that the parent will try to meet their needs when the time is right. (PS… want to see real change, real fast? Put this one to use right now!)

13. They Seek Out Parenting Guidance and Education

Successful parents are not content to wait-and-see if maybe, just maybe, their child will outgrow his or her behavior. hey seek out guidance and knowledge, knowing that the best parents take action, using their creativity and knowledge to stay one step ahead of their child’s behavior.

14. They Don’t Let Their Child Pressure Them

Successful parents know that whenever their child puts pressure on them to make a decision, the answer is no. This is a chance to practice consistency and teach the child that crying, whining, badgering, pestering, or bargaining for what they want doesn’t work to change the parent’s mind. They also try to determine their child’s need, find where they can say yes, and suggest alternative choices.

15. They’re Not Afraid to Stop Their Child’s World

When a negative behavior persists and there are more moments of survival rather than enjoyment, a successful parent knows it might be time to stop their child’s world. This technique can calm emotions, allow for more self-control, and create more space in a busy schedule for reflection and regrouping.

BONUS: They Take Care of Themselves

You’ve heard this one before, but how many of us do it? Successful parents do! They know that if they expect their child to be respectful, take care of themselves out in the world, be nurturing, listen to their inner voice, and follow their dreams, the parent must do the same.

BONUS BONUS: They Know They Are Always Modeling

Successful parents understand that a child is always watching and listening for the subtlest cues to help them navigate the world. These parents understand that their own behavior and what they say has to be congruent with the behaviors they want in their child.



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