9 Essential Parenting Tips

  1. Be a Good Example
    Most of what children learn is through imitation of adult behavior. If you make excuses and don’t admit your mistakes, that’s what you are teaching your child to do. If you talk respectfully, they will learn to do the same.

  2. Manage Your Anger
    Every parent gets irritated with their child, but what you need to keep in mind is, “Who is the adult here?” If you don’t manage your anger well, your child will not be able to do it either. Show them how to do it.

  3. Spanking is Not Discipline
    Parents spank because they get angry and don’t know what else to do. But spanking is not effective. It teaches that might is right and damages your relationship with your child. Spanking will likely lead to more misbehavior. 

  4. Understand Your Child
    In addition to basic care and protection, children have two fundamental relationship needs. The first is nurturance – unconditional love and support.  The second is structure – guidelines, rules, boundaries, clear expectations, and discipline. Both of these relationship needs are crucial for children to thrive.

  5. Get Out of the Power Battles
    Children often become defiant in response to overly controlling parents. “Because I said so,” is a good indicator you are more concerned with being in control than teaching your child responsibility. Offer choices that are connected to consequences, then hold them accountable. 

  6. Give Encouragement
    Praise is different than encouragement. Praise is earned, because it is based on performance. Encouragement expresses belief in your child’s character, abilities and potential. “This assignment is tough, but I know you can do it,” shows confidence in the child’s effort, perseverance and ability.

  7. Determine Who Owns the Problem
    Ask yourself whose problem it is. If it belongs to your child, let your child solve it. Rather than nagging your teenager to wear their coat, let them have the natural consequence of getting cold. It’s their body, and their problem if they get cold.  

  8. Use Consequences
    Children cannot learn to make good choices unless they are given the opportunity to practice them. Consequences are not punishment. Consequences offer choices and help the child learn by experiencing the outcome of their decisions. “You decided not to do your chores when you got home, like you agreed, so you won’t be able to go out tonight until they’re done.” 

  9. Work as a Team
    Not being on the same page with your partner gives your child mixed messages, undermines their self-esteem and encourages them to manipulate. Work together to strategize how you will handle parenting decisions. Operating as a team provides your child the security and confidence they need to be successful.

Read about our flagship parenting program, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting


Duane Nelson

Born and raised in the Minneapolis, Duane is a Marriage and Family Therapist who has made his home in Rochester for the last 25 years. Duane has been married for 33 years to his wife, Cathy. The two met while doing music at the same church in Minneapolis. Duane and Cathy have two adult daughters, and the family love to travel and play cribbage together. Duane plays guitar and percussion, and the couple still make music together. Duane enjoys gardening, cookouts, hiking, reading, downhill skiing, and hanging out with friends. Duane holds three graduate degrees, two mental health licenses, and two major counseling certifications. He has worked professionally for 37 years in addiction treatment, mental health, clinical social work, pastoral counseling, and marriage and family therapy. Duane is widely regarded as an expert in marriage and family therapy. Following his retirement from Mayo Clinic, Duane founded Healthy Relationships Rochester. This innovative organization is based on developing the concept of Relationship Intelligence through teaching and disseminating best-practice relationship education and skill training programs in a variety of non-clinical settings.