Parenting Skills Activities

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

No one becomes a parent hoping to do a poor job. But, let’s face it, parenting is a full-time, exacting job that can be the best part of your life or the biggest headache. The best parenting classes give you a head start on how to be an effective parent using techniques that have worked for others. Your kids might even thank you for the effort.


Parents need to know what behaviors are normal at each stage of their child’s life. The parenting class should explain milestones such as walking, talking or when your child can be trusted to be alone with younger siblings. Observing your child for these milestones helps you anticipate his needs and lets you know what activities are age-appropriate. The milestone information also lets you know when your child is lagging too far behind or is way ahead of his peers so you can consult a pediatrician or education specialist.


Your children need to know what you expect, the clear limits and consequences of behavior and how to work with you to learn new things. This takes communication. Your parenting instructor could suggest, “Get on your child’s level and look her in the eyes when you talk to her.” This is true for any age child. You might learn how to engage in active listening so your child knows you're listening to her and that you understand what she needs. Other important communication skills include speaking encouraging words to your child, stating limits in positive terms, and expressing unconditional love in word and deed.

Dealing with Disobedience

When setting limits for your child, you need to assess your own behavior to decide whether you are modeling what you want to see, encourages Nigel Vann, senior director at the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. You need to apply age-appropriate methods to discipline. If your toddler doesn’t come when you call, you can walk over and pick him up and make him come with you. That doesn’t work with a teen, so you can apply logical consequences, such as requiring your teen to walk to school if he isn’t in the car when you’re ready to leave for work.

Individualizing Parenting

When you understand your child’s personality, you can parent more effectively, according to Gary Smalley, relationship professional and author of “Homes of Honor.” This information helps you individualize your parenting techniques so you can train your child in an effective manner. Your strong-willed lion child likes to be in charge, so you can put her in charge of cleaning her room or make a game of it for your playful otter child. With a young child, you would observe the child to decide her personality type, but you might discuss the characteristics with an older child and help her understand her strengths, weaknesses and motivations.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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