Wouldn’t it be great if we all took a Parenting 101 Course in School?

People joke that parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual – but I seriously wish it did. Where was the Parenting 101 class in school? A class we could have all used, right?


Couldn’t they shove a how-to manual on good parenting in our hospital diaper bag, along with all those unnecessary diaper samples and coupons? “Here is your Parenting 101 manual. Pay special attention to page 346 – you will need those instructions in two years.”


No matter what your parenting style - there are certain ingredients that make up "good parenting." Read what they are from a child therapist and get some parenting 101 tips!

Working with parents over the years, I have seen many different parenting styles. I support parents in whatever approach they choose to use – as I think it is important for parents to pick a parenting style that feels right for them and their children.

Regardless of the parenting style, I have noticed that parents who are the most successful with their parenting follow four basic components for good parenting.


Ingredients to good parenting

The Four C’s of Parenting, Counseling@Northwestern

Parenting 101 breakdown:

1. Give your child choices.

Children have very little control over their lives and the choices that are made for them. Often children will exert the only power they have and refuse to poop or eat.


Giving your child choices doesn’t mean letting them run the show. It means helping them problem-solve their own behavior. Sometimes giving choices helps your child make better decisions.


For example – you want your child to turn off the TV and come to dinner. They are ignoring you – as usual. You say, “You have two choices – you can choose to turn the TV off and come to dinner or you can choose to ignore me and go to bed early.”

2. Consequence behavior – be it good or bad consequences.

When people say “consequences” there is normally a negative connotation associated with it. Consequences can be good or bad. You want to teach your child that there are consequences for their actions.

If your child makes great choices – they might reap the rewards of those choices. If they make poor choices they might see negative consequences.

It is important to help children see the cause and effect of their behavior. It is teaching them that old adage “For every action there is a reaction.” In a perfect world I would suggest linking natural consequences to behavior.

For example, if your child refuses to go to bed – the consequence might be early bedtime the next night. If you child went to bed easily the night before – you might recognize that behavior by giving them an extra story before bedtime the next night.

It is important to connect the dots for children and let them know why a certain consequence or reward is being given. For example, “You made some great choices last night and went to bed without any problems! Because of that great behavior – I can take the time to read you an extra book because I know you’ll go to bed right after.”

3. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Should I say it again – consistency!

If you are going to get only one thing out of this article – let it be CONSISTENCY. Did I really need to capitalize the word – yes! It is that important. I always tell parents – it won’t matter what you do or say – if you are not consistent about it.

Children are little archivists. They are archiving what you said yesterday and if you followed through. They are testing the waters and seeing where your limits are and if they can be pushed. If you say something – stick with it. If you say, “If you do that again [blank] will happen.” – do [blank] when it happens again. Because – it will happen again.

4. Parenting with care and respect.

Parenting with respect
 can make the one difference in your ability to be effective. You can give your child choices, consequences and be extremely consistent – but if you do not show your child love and respect – your parenting will have some serious cracks.

Children learn the most from our actions. When we demean or belittle our children – we teach them to do the same. When we shout at them all the time – children become deaf to our words and wait for us to scream.

Parenting is a challenge. We all have our bad days. We all have those moments when we wish we had a rewind button. Parenting isn’t about perfection – it is about intention. Identify your parenting intentions – and take one day at a time – that is what good parenting is all about! This list is a wonderful place to start!

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