37 Practical Ways to Improve as a Parent

Jeff Smith writes for the Raising Modern-Day Josephs parenting blog

Parenting is my biggest challenge. It’s likely yours, too. One author says it is akin to “having your heart go walking around outside your body.” And it really doesn’t get easier with age!

What can we do about getting better at parenting? A Michael Hyatt blog post on an unrelated topic prompted me to brainstorm a list of practical ways all of us can improve as parents. Emphasis is on practical. Small steps will get you to the same destination as one or two large steps. Truth be told, most of us are small-step kinds of parents, aren’t we?

The list is not meant to be thorough. Considering incorporating one or two entries into your parenting this month.

In random order:

1. Pray for your child in her presence at the start and close of each day. Keep it brief.

2. Tell your child you love him at least every other day.

3. Hug your child often (even if it’s just a shoulder hug for teens).

4. Give her a short note of encouragement at least monthly.

5. Spend at least 30 minutes of one-on-one time with him each week, and turn off your cell phone and PDA beforehand if you own them.

6. Leave an age-appropriate joke in your child’s lunch box or coat pocket occasionally.

7. Tell her you’re proud of her. Be specific why.

8. Surprise your child with a small gift that you know he’d appreciate.

9. Read the Bible or a devotional lesson together at least weekly.

10. Play a board or card game with your child.

11. Take your child out for breakfast or lunch at least monthly.

12. Take off work early to cheer him on at an after-school activity.

13. Give your child an encouraging card, e-card or e-mail message.

14. Leave an inspirational quote on your child’s pillow before his bedtime.

15. Learn a Bible verse or passage together.

16. Hug your child and tell her “I love you” after disciplining her.

17. Watch one of your child’s favorite TV programs together.

18. Praise your child in front of his teachers or peers.

19. Teach her a new skill of yours.

20. Make a meal of his choice with him for dinner.

21. Serve with your child somewhere in your community – such as a nursing home, homeless shelter or hospital.

22. Ask your child to forgive you for something you did to her recently, such as losing your temper.

23. Pray for your child for five minutes every day.

24. Pray often for God to grow you as a parent.

25. Join your child in doing a random act of kindness for a neighbor.

26. Play catch with him.

27. Rent a funny movie, pop popcorn and laugh hysterically together.

28. Help your child with homework. Commit to being very patient!

29. Hold a family faith night – do a fun activity, read a Bible passage and pray together.

30. Prioritize healthy eating and exercise habits for your whole family. Reward your kids when they achieve milestones.

31. Plan a fun weekend or day trip away for the two of you.

32. Take lots of pictures of your child and your family.

33. Devote yourself to only disciplining your child in love. This may mean delaying discipline for a few minutes while you collect your emotions and pray.

34. Put a picture of her in your wallet or purse. Look at it and thank God for something about her daily.

35. Give your child something from your childhood that was valuable to you. Explain why it was valuable and why you’re giving it to him.

36. Celebrate your child’s successes with enthusiasm.

37. Be the first one to encourage your child when she experiences pain or failure.

Question: What would you add to the list?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 6:29 pm and is filed under Fatherhood, Parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “37 Practical Ways to Improve as a Parent”

  1. Cheri Wilson Says:

    January 24th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I live this list with one correction. Parents should tell their children they love them everyday. Great ideas, can’t wait to put them to work.

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About the Authors
Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith is editorial manager of Awana. He and his wife have two children. Jeff has written three curriculum books for Awana.
Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson is a Web copywriter for Awana. She and her husband have daughters in sixth and ninth grade. Kim is a former youth ministry leader at her church who has co-written six books on youth ministry.
Linda Massey Weddle
Linda Weddle is senior U.S. program designer at Awana. She grew up in Awana, her children took part in Awana, and now her grandchildren all are in Awana. Linda is author of How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph.