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10 Research Based Skills of Successful Parents

Being a parent is both a joy and a challenge. It’s a role that requires constant adaptation, patience, and love. As parents, we strive to provide the best possible upbringing for our children, guiding them towards a successful and fulfilling life. But what are the habits and skills that set successful parents apart? This blog post will explore 10 essential skills and habits that can help you succeed as a parent and create a nurturing environment for your children.

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Becoming a successful parent isn’t just about luck or intuition; it’s about consciously developing positive habits and skills that contribute to your child’s growth and well-being. These habits are the building blocks of a strong and loving parent-child relationship. Let’s dive into the essential habits and skills that successful parents cultivate.

The field of parenting has been extensively researched for many decades. The psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein completed a study that identified habits and skills that successful parents exhibit. Dr. Epstein collected data from over 2,000 participants via a survey conducted on the website

The top 10 parent habits and skills were:

  1. Love and affection
  2. Stress management
  3. Relationship skills
  4. Autonomy and independence
  5. Education and learning
  6. Life skills
  7. Behavior management
  8. Health
  9. Religion
  10. Safety

In today’s article, we will explore the top 3 habits and skills.

Love and Affection

It’s no big surprise that love and affection are at the top of the list. I make it a practice to hug my children and tell them I love them regularly. This expression of love has led them to express their love for me and other family members spontaneously. Children raised in a stressful environment filled with shouting, humiliation, and aggression have continuous spikes of the stress hormone cortisol. Eventually, the child’s body starts to suppress the cortisol, and they end up with low cortisol levels, which is associated with aggressive behavior later in life.

Furthermore, children who feel chronic stress due to lack of love are more vulnerable as adults to stress and may self-soothe with drugs or alcohol. Sue Gerhardt (2014) wrote that children who are emotionally neglected have reduced brain sizes, especially in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, decision-making, social behaviors, and personality. 

How do we show we love our children?

  • We can spend quality time with them, giving our children our full, undivided attention.
  • Show affection our children affection through loving words and hugs.
  • Eat meals together with our children and engage in conversation.
  • Celebrate moments in our children’s life. Laugh with our children and smile at them often.
  • Praise our children and remind them of their strengths.
  • Speak powerful words to our children that will become their inner voice.

Researchers D’Cruz and Stagnitti (2009) asked children between the ages of 6 and 8 to tell them stories about parents who loved and didn’t love their children. One child gave the following story of love:

Child and mum. Child loves the mum. Mum likes to pickup child all the time. And mum puts in bed and they give lots of hugs and kisses on the way. Father likes child and child loves parents. Only child they have and they love her. Dad always gives piggybacks all the way to the room and back. The end.

This story reflects enjoying a fun activity together and being physically close, which are ways to show love and affection to children. This story also shows us that children know what love is in a parent-child dynamic.

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Stress Management

Stress management is the ability to reduce negative impacts caused by stress for you and your child. This is a key skill for successful parents. MedicineNet describes 5 ‘A’s of stress management 

  • Avoid
  • Alter
  • Adapt
  • Accept
  • Active

Avoid situations that will elevate your stress levels. Some situations, such as sickness or accidents, are unavoidable but control what you can to keep stress low. If social media and news reports trigger stress, take a break.

Alter your environment by scheduling activities for work and rest.

Adapt to what is happening. You can use the 5×5 rule. When you are stressed, wait 5 minutes and decide if this situation will matter in five years. If it won’t matter, adapt and move on.

Accept that stress will happen from time to time. Solve what you can control, and do not stress over what you can. Look for opportunities to learn from the situation you are experiencing. 

Be physically active. Physical activities release endorphins that boost our mood and reduce stress. You can participate in yoga, dancing, walking, or any other activity you enjoy. Stress can also lead to tight, tense muscles. Harvard Health Publishing explains how to participate in progressive muscular relaxation, which focuses on relaxing muscle groups in sequential order. Some of these exercises include:


Wrinkle your forehead and arch your eyebrows. Hold; then relax.


Close your eyes tightly. Hold; then relax.


Wrinkle your nose and flare your nostrils. Hold; then relax.


Push your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. Hold; then relax.


Grimace. Hold; then relax.

Remember, stress management is important for successful parents, and we should work on keeping our stress levels low.

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Relationship Skills

This area focuses on a positive relationship with your partner and how you, as a parent, model good relationship skills. Children who observe positive interactions between their parents are less stressed and feel more secure. The relationship they see between their parents is also their first example of meaningful relationships. Children watch and learn from both parents. In order to maintain a healthy relationship:

  • Communicate openly and honestly with your partner.
  • Respect your partner’s boundaries and feelings.
  • Compromise. Parents should seek to find solutions that work for both of them. 
  • Do not talk negatively about the other parent in front of the child.
  • Avoid arguments and practice calm, productive discussions in front of your child.
  • Actively listen to your partner.

Being a successful parent isn’t about perfection; it’s about cultivating positive habits and skills that contribute to your child’s growth and happiness. Remember, successful parents go through a continuous journey of learning and growth. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and cherish the precious moments spent with your children. You are shaping the future, one habit at a time. Our next article will dive in-depth into autonomy and independence, education and learning, and life skills.


D’Cruz, H., & Stagnitti, K. (2010). When parents love and don’t love their children: Some children’s stories. Child & Family Social Work15(2), 216-225.

Gerhardt, S. (2014). Why love matters: How affection shapes a baby’s brain.

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