12 Traits Good Parents Have in Common

Mother and daughter at kitchen table

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What traits do good parents have in common? Are there certain things that some people do that make them good parents (or not good parents)?

Of course, the characteristics of a good parent aren't fixed or absolute. What may seem like good parenting to one person may not fit that definition for someone else. But generally speaking, these traits and habits can be found in parents who are practicing good parenting skills.

Every child is different and so is every parent, and every family has unique needs and circumstances. But most kids will benefit from parents who strive to provide care, attention, and unconditional love—but set expectations for behavior too.

Guide and Support Your Child

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 strict "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.

Encourage Independence

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. However, it can be hard to tell how much we should help and how much we should let kids figure something out on their own.

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 them 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.

Be Mindful That They Are Watching

Got a piece of juicy gossip you're dying to share? Want to tell off a neighbor who did something rude or yell at a driver who cut you off? While we can't always be perfect, good parents know 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.

Avoid Being Mean, Spiteful, or Unkind

Can a parent occasionally lose their temper or yell? Absolutely—we are human, after all. But insulting or humiliating or belittling a child are never, ever a good way to teach anything. Would you want to be treated that way?

Show Your Kids You Love Them

We can all get so busy, it's easy to forget to take the time to show our kids how we feel about them. Small gestures, like writing a note for their lunchbox or sharing things about yourself with them can strengthen your connection and show your child how much you love them every day.

Apologize for Your Mistakes

You probably teach your kids to own up to things they did wrong by apologizing and trying to make up for what they did. This is just as, if not more, important for parents to do themselves.

Good parents know that all parents can sometimes make mistakes, and they learn from them and show their kids how to take responsibility for their actions.

Discipline Your Child Effectively

Discipline (not punishment) is not only one of the best things you can teach your kids but also a way to ensure that you are raising a child who will be happier as they grow. Why is it so important to discipline children? Kids who are not disciplined are much more likely to be spoiled, ungrateful, greedy, and, not surprisingly, have trouble making friends and being happy later in life.

See Your Child for Who They Are

Aim to see your child for who they are, not who you're hoping they'll become. Your child may be more of a quiet reader than someone who wants to be a star on the stage or a soccer field.

It's great to encourage kids to try things that may push them out of their comfort zones. "You won't know if you like it till you really give it a try" can sometimes apply, especially to kids who are still figuring out who they are and what they want.

But it's important for parents to do a quick check and make sure they're pushing kids for the right reasons (to try it, and not because the parent wants the child to be something they're not).

Keep Track of Your Child

Know what your child is doing and with whom. Who are your child's friends? What are the parents of the child like? Who will your child encounter when they play at the friend's house and are there guns in the home?

These and other questions to ask before a play date are not only crucial for your child's safety but also an important way for you to keep track of what your child is experiencing and encountering when they are away from you.

Teach Your Child to Be a Good Person

Teach kids to be kind, respectful toward others, be charitable, grateful for what they have, and have empathy for others. Of course, we all want our kids to strive to get good grades, win awards and accolades for music, sports, and other activities, and be successful later in life. However, who they are as a person is more important than which awards they get.

If you forget to teach them how to be good children and good people, they will be less likely to be happy and fulfilled, no matter what they achieve and how much they succeed.

Connect With Your Child

Laugh together, spend time together, and connect positively every day. Whether it's playing a board game, going for a bike ride, cooking, watching a movie, or reading a book together (or reading different books side-by-side, if your child is older), good parents consciously spend time having fun and connecting with their kids in small and large ways.

Listen to Your Child

Parents often spend a lot of their time with their kids talking to them rather than with them. Practice listening to your kids and really giving them your full attention (away from a computer or phone screen). You'll be surprised by how much more you feel connected to your child, and you'll likely learn about lots of things your child is thinking and feeling.

The best part: You'll be also showing your child how they can give you their undivided attention when you want to discuss something with them.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.